3rd/2nd century BC
The triarii formed the heavy backbone of the early republican legion.
It is behind them the lesser armed velites, hastati and principes could retire if the worst came to bear.
‘It has come to the triarii.’ was a traditional Roman saying describing a crisis.
The triarii bore some similarity to the Greek hoplites because in essence they will have operated in the same way, forming a wall of shields, bristling with lances.
Here our triarius is equipped with a large curved shield, larger and heavier than that of the later legionaries, a simple bronze vaulted helmet with two side panels, chain mail body armour, a sword and a long spear with which to keep the foe at a distance.
Look closely and you see that his left leg only is armed with a bronze greave (shin guard). The left leg would be the forward leg, closest to the enemy.
This page was last updated on 4th June 2008.