A Spartan Warrior versus a Roman Legionnaire.
Battle of Ancient Warriors
television programme was an enjoyable and interesting piece of entertainment. I enjoyed the way the programme was set up and the scientific approach was really well thought out and well implemented. The only gripe I had with the programme was that the actual contestants they matched them up against were ill-suited. The Deadliest Warrior
After discussing the programme with friends, we all agreed that the pairings were a bit of a letdown. The Ninja of the Far East versus the Greek Spartan Warrior was not a like for like match. In a pitched battle, the Spartan would be victorious the vast majority of the time. The Ninja was not a warrior who fought in plain sight, so the choice did not seem a good pairing.
In a kind of homage to the television series. I have decided to do a relative comparison of their merits. I have decided to compare the Spartan warrior against one of Rome's finest Legionnaires. As far as we are aware, these warriors never met on the battlefield as the once-mighty Sparta had melted into obscurity by the time of Roman supremacy and the Greek warriors were nowhere near their legendary peak. The Spartans of old existed a few hundred years before the Roman Empire and its mighty Legionnaires had marched their way over a large portion of the civilized world.
The Salute of an Ancient Warrior.
The Spartan Warrior
It was standard practice for a noble son of Sparta to be taken away from his family at the age of eight. He would then be brutalized by his peers and turned into a Spartan warrior through years of exhaustive training. This tough-love approach is effectively a basic form of eugenics policy, only the strongest will survive and they would be expected to continue Sparta's mighty military exploits.
By the time the young Spartan has reached the age of eighteen, he had learned to fight, to win and to die honourably like a true Spartan. After constant drills by their superiors, the Spartan youth had become a fine-tuned killing machine ready for battle. The youth would have been taught of Sparta's heroes and he was instructed never to surrender, and never back down from the fight. By the time his schooling was completed. He would have survived in the wilderness and would have killed a member of the Messenian helot slave class. This murder served a two-fold purpose, firstly it culled the number of rebellious young slaves. And secondly, it gave the Spartan youth a taste of bloodshed, which would accompany him until his death.
The US Marine fitness programme is based on the Spartan's brutal training principle, although slaughtering an innocent member of the serving class at graduation is not recommended. The Spartan warrior underwent a decade of tests, to ensure that his endurance and character were worthy of his position in the elite of his people's army.
SPARTAN WARRIOR 95/100
The Legionnaire joined the Roman army in several different ways. He was either forced into it as he was the second or third son in a poor family. He may have committed a crime and was offered the chance to use his life as a soldier rather than face a horrible death by execution. Or he may have been a slave sold into the Roman Legion after he had been abducted from his homeland. Another way to become a Legionnaire was if he was an auxiliary attached to a legion in the occupied territories. He may sign up to be a Legionnaire so that he could get Roman citizenship. This would entitle him to a legion pension and land to farm at the end of his service. Like the Spartans, the Legionnaire would be trained repeatedly in Roman tactics and strategies. The Romans fought in the same way as the Spartans, as they both worked as a single force to crush their enemies.
Shields: The Spartans main armour was their bronze shields which were the ancient equivalent of a tank when used in a large group. The Roman shields were of a later design and construction, they were generally made of steel or iron. The Roman shields have been more modern and advanced were stronger and larger than the Spartan shield, but the Spartan shield was built to withstand a lot of punishment.
SPARTAN 90/100 LEGIONNAIRE 89/100
Spear: The Spartan used their long spears to inflict mass casualties from behind their wall of bronze shields. The courage and discipline with the spear allowed the Spartan formation to become a human threshing machine. The Spartans used their spears as javelins preferring the spear to use bows and arrows, the Spartans thought them cowardly. The Romans had spears but their fighting style was to use it more as a defensive or close quarter combat deterrent. The Roman ranks used their short sword in a more hand to hand environment.
SPARTAN 95/100 LEGIONNAIRE 92/100
Armour: The Spartan Warrior in battle wore bronze armour, please disregard what the 300 movies showed, the Spartans did wear body armour with their red capes and helmets. They did not have a lot of coverage and as the armour was made of bronze it would have weighed a fair amount. The Legionnaire was covered in a bit more metal but he was afforded some flexibility as the plate mail was slats of steel not a solid mass like a suit of armour. The weak points on the legionnaire were at the joints. The Chestplate and helmet were very functional at saving injury.
SPARTAN 80/100 LEGIONNAIRE 90/100
Swords: Both sets of warriors used a short sword as their primary weapon in one on one contest. The Spartan Xiphos was designed to go in and around the defence of a shield in line. Owing to the shortness of the blade the Spartan had to react to the opponent's aggression rather than attack long-distance and telegraph his attack. The Roman tended to use the Gladius, this was an instrument designed to hack through limbs then run through bodies and move onto the next victim.
Spartan 85/100 LEGIONNAIRE 80/100
Now that I have calculated the scores, it seems that the result is this...
Spartan Score is an average of 89.0
Roman Score is an average of 89.2
So by a small amount the Roman soldier should defeat a Spartan Warrior in the field of battle. Is this surprising? The Roman is using technology more advanced than the Spartan so that alone should swing it. What I am unable to factor in is variables such as fatigue, morale, the experience of battle and what they are fighting for. The Legionnaire dominated nearly 500 years of history-changing tactics and equipment very little but they eventually were destroyed by less drilled but more hungry enemies.
Who would win in an Equal fight
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Andrew Stewart