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Set 038

Roman Army under King Servius Tullius

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2022
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


For the first few centuries of its existence, Rome was a small, unremarkable community amongst a host of other, similar communities scattered about the Italian peninsula. Such communities sometimes co-operated and sometimes fought each other for resources, and occasionally forged a loose alliance for mutual benefit, such as that of the Etruscans. Rome was south of the Etruscan lands, and was undoubtedly influenced by its neighbours, but it had its own kings, supposedly ruling between 753 and 509 BCE, and each tried to improve the reach and influence of his community. Servius Tullius was the sixth of these seven kings, and according to legend he was a good king, reorganising society and increasing the land controlled by Rome. Legend has it that he achieved victories over the Etruscans, and particularly the town of Veii, a few kilometres from Rome.

The seven kings of Rome are semi-legendary, as what little information we have on them is gleaned from much later writers who are not necessarily reliable. The most famous of those writers, Livy (59 BCE – 17 CE), described the reign of Servius, and also to a degree the nature of his warriors. Historians debate the accuracy of his information, some of which is clearly incorrect, but it is clear that, for the purposes of this set, Linear-A have followed the opinion of Peter Connolly, who to a large degree accepts what Livy claims. Livy says that Servius conducted a census of his people and divided them into five classes based on their wealth. While this was for the purposes of raising taxes, it was also the basis for participation in the citizen army, since each person in each class was expected to provide a certain level of equipment. Unfortunately even the ancient historians do not entirely agree on the details of this arrangement, but it explains why Linear-A have labelled the figures in this set based on class.

So let’s run down what each of these poses represents. The first four figures (the whole top row) show warriors in the 1st class. Livy thinks that during this time the Greek hoplite and the phalanx were adopted by the Romans, so these men would make up that formation, or at least the front few ranks. They have a panoply very much like the Greeks of the period, although the three feathers on the helmet of one seems more Latin than Greek, which seems reasonable. They have the hoplite round shield and spear (both rather small to our eye) and either muscle cuirass or composite corselet, plus greaves and crested helmets, all in Greek style. The first figure in row two is also Class 1, but is further labelled as a centurio (i.e. a centurion). He has a different form of crest, a shield that is of Dipylon shape, and holds an axe (which looks to us more ceremonial in shape than practical) and javelins rather than a spear, so clearly he is not a physical part of any phalanx. The axe is also a surprise because we would have expected such a man to have the more prestigious sword instead.

The next two figures are labelled as being from the 2nd class – the second of these also being a centurio. The soldier has no body armour and holds an oval shield, but still has a fine crested helmet and greaves. The centurio is most notable for the interesting face mask he wears. Moving on down the social scale, the next three figures are 3rd class, so again less armour and kit, but still with spears and shields. The last man in the second row wears a crested pot helmet while the others are bare-headed. The last two poses are from class 4, which means they have no armour or shield, and are armed with just javelins or a sling. In fact Livy puts slingers into a fifth class, so that may be an error on the box, but either way these are both light skirmishers from the lower classes of society.

How these men were deployed is unknown. As we have said, Livy says they used the phalanx, but he also says each class made up one line when in battle, which as Connolly points out makes little sense. In general, however, these figures are posed for individual combat rather than in any strict formation, and the poses are pretty good. There is a lot of jabbing with the spear, and the skirmishers are in useful poses too. They are not appreciably flat, and even the first figure in our bottom row, who is holding his spear next to his head, is at least holding it to the side of the head rather than over the top.

The sculpting is the usual style we get these days from Linear-A, and includes good levels of detail and nice, natural proportions. The clothing is well done, as is the more complex armour and helmets. All of the weapons and shields are moulded with the figure, but a good job has been done of these without too much of the common ‘holding the shield behind me’ type of pose. A few have some extra plastic between spear and body, and it has to be said there is a fair amount of flash to contend with, but suitably cleaned up these make attractive figures.

We have given this set an accuracy score of 10, but that has to come with a very big caveat. Clearly Linear-A used Connolly as their main source, and as such we felt they followed his guidance very closely, so if Connolly is correct in trusting much of what Livy says then so are these figures. However other historians have disputed much of what he has said, and the truth is no one today can be at all sure of the look of Roman fighters during the 6th century BCE, nor the manner in which they were used. However, if figure manufacturers and others refrained from making products on historical subjects about which there is significant doubt then large numbers of products would never be made, and it is perfectly possible that we will never be certain of the nature of Roman warriors at this time. So Linear-A have gone with a perfectly plausible reconstruction, but there will be some that will disagree with this and will have valid arguments to back up their contention. Aside from accuracy, these are nice figures in good general combat poses and of course offer all sorts of possibilities for other ancient subjects.


Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 9
Mould 7

Further Reading
"Armies of Ancient Italy" - Pen & Sword - Gabriele Esposito - 9781526751850
"Early Roman Armies" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.283) - Simon Northwood & Nicholas Sekunda - 9781855325135
"Early Roman Warrior 753-321 BC" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.156) - Nic Fields - 9781849084994
"Greece and Rome at War" - Greenhill - Peter Connolly - 9781853673030
"Roman Centurions 753-31 BC" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.470) - Raffaele D'Amato - 9781849085410

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