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Spartan Warrior vs Roman Legionnaire
television programme was an enjoyable and interesting piece of entertainment. I really enjoyed the way the programme was set up and the scientific approach was really well thought out and implemented. The only gripe I had with the programme was the actual contestants they matched them up with. The Deadliest Warrior
After discussing the programme with friends we all agreed that the pairings were a bit of a let down. 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.
So taking a queue from the television series I think I will do a relative comparison of their individual merits. I have decided to compare the Spartan warrior against Romes finest Legionnaire. Now these Warrior's never met on the battlefield as Sparta had melted into obscurity and were nowhere near their legendary peak. The Spartans of old existed a few hundred years before the Roman Empire and it's mighty Legionnaires marched their way over a large portion of the civilized world.
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 man through years of training. This tough love approach is effectively a basic form of eugenics policy, only the strongest will survive and they will continue Sparta's good name.
By the time the young Spartan has reached the age of 18 he has learnt to fight, to win and to die honourable like a true Spartan. After constant drilling by their superiors the Spartan youth has become a fine tuned killing machine ready for battle. The youth is taught of Sparta's heroes and he is instructed never to surrender, and never back down. By the time his schooling is 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 will accompany him until his own death.
The US Marine fitness programme is based on the Spartans brutal training principle, although slaughtering an innocent member of the serving class at graduation is not recommended. The Spartan warrior undergoes a decade of training and tests of his endurance and character.
SPARTAN WARRIOR 95/100
The Legionnaire comes into the Roman army in a number of ways, he is either forced into it as he is the second or third son in a poor family. He may have committed a crime and was offered the life of a soldier rather than death, or he may have been a slave sold to the Roman Legion after been abducted from his homeland. Another way a Legionnaire may join up, is if he is an auxiliary attached to a Legion in the occupied territories. He may sign up to be a Legionnaire as he could get Roman citizenship. This would entitle him to a legion pension and land to farm on the end of his service. Like the Spartan's the Legionnaire would be trained repeatedly in Roman tactics and strategies. The Romans fought in the same way as the Spartans, they worked as a single force to crush their enemies.
Shields: The Spartans main armour was their bronze shields which was 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 been more modern and advanced where 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 using 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 movie 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 was 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 a shields defence in line. Owing to the shortness of the blade the Spartan had to react to the opponents 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, 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 where destroyed by less drilled but more hungry enemies.
Who would win in an Equal fight
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© 2010 Andrew Stewart