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Re: Sacrificing to standards

On Mon, 10 Mar 1997, Orion Center wrote:

> Having talked to a few Roman scholars here in Rome, I receive the notion
> that Roman legions sacrificing to their standards is not an idea accepted in
> the realm of Roman history. I'm led to believe that the convenient idea
> relating to the pesher Habakkuk is based on a series of coin interpretations
> that could simply be wrong. However, I have not read the original article,
> though everyone seems to take the notion as gospel. Even if the coin
> interpretations are wrong, this wouldn't necessarily negate the ironic
> situation that either the Habakkuk pesher writer or his informant was also
> misinterpreting the information received.
> There are a few things that make me want to know exactly where the original
> interpretation comes from. After the Marian reform of the Roman army
> structure, the use of the cavallery was reduced to minor importance. The
> roman equites were done away with and the infantery became the solid core of
> Roman military strategy, although the provincial cavallery was still used,
> though nothing that would reflect the pHab "Kittim who trample the earth
> with their horses and beasts". The "beasts" reference is particularly
> interesting, making one think of elephants, which was clearly not part of
> Roman strategy, though Hannibal did spend time in the Seleucid court,
> linking such strategy to the Seleucids as seen in the death of Eleazar
> Maccabaeus BJ I.I.5.
> Any help on a source of the sacrificing to standards would be appreciated,
> as would be any input on military tactics implied in pHab.


I am by no means an expert on the Roman army, but I looked into this 
issue several years ago and found some references to a cult of the 
standards (as I recall) in the Roman army subsequent to the Marian reform 
in what seemed to be some fairly standard works on the Roman army.  My 
references are in a bibliography that is on our network server, which is 
down at them moment, but I'll dig them out and pass them along when it 
comes back up.

David W. Suter
Saint Martin's College
Lacey, WA 98503