Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Marching bands and Roman legions

Recently, I went with my hubby to professional football game where the stands were filled near capacity. To the tune of about 80,000 fans.  This is the number of Roman soldiers Boudica faced with her warriors who numbered approximately 200,000 in number. Scary. 
The difference between the two armies is simple. Most armies other than the Roman legions fought individually. They had a plan. Attack. Out number. Overwhelm. Or simply fight it out, man to man. 
This was to their down fall. Ask Boudica.

The Roman legions didn't fight man to man but as a unit.But to command this unit to move as ordered was a feat. The legion was trained to respond to signals. The roar of battle required the use of instruments to sound the commander's commands since they didn't have internet or wacky talkies.

According to Vegetius of the 4th century AD, the straight trumpet or 'tuba' sounded the charge and retreat.  This order was obeyed without hesitation. The tuba was also used for sacred ceremonies. 
The horn or 'cornu' or curved tuba was used to signal movement of the units or colors. These instruments could move sets/cohorts of men just about anywhere. Now think of marching bands with their instruments that have generated from these as the French horn, the large and small tuba, trumpet, coronet, even the flute along with the drums. All were used previously by Roman Legion
So when you see a marching band, you will now know a bit more of its origins.
These same instruments also were used in the triumphs for the victorious emperors or as we know them parades for our sports figures and other heroes.

 One other instrument from Ancient Rome is the bagpipe. 

Originally, it was a goat's bladder used in Greece. The Romans thought it has a strange enough sound to be used with the legions. When Rome ventured into Britannia about the time of Boudica, they brought it with them. But decided it didn't work. And stopped using it.  
However, the Caledonii people, or who became known as the Scots, decided they rather liked this instrument. They came to treasure the bagpipe so much so that the  Scottish warriors kept fighting as long as the piper was playing. Many a battle was won because of the piper. This was so successful that the British outlawed the bagpipe for this reason. They considered it a weapon.
When I see the marching band march onto a football field at halftime, you now know where my mind goes. But, if you ask my hubby, he'll say I see Rome in every thing.

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