Late Romans sprue question

  • Can anyone help me identify what these objects are? They both are on the Late Romans sprue.




  • The wand is a command baton of some sort, I think:

  • Vine stick for centurion and a club used by legionaries against cataphracts among other things. 

  • The wikipedia does mention the version with a knob, and suggests that was the more common form.

  • Or, this:

    Optio's staff with silver ball? 

  • @Mark Dewis Actually I think @Hudson Adams answer that the knoby thing was a club is right (in a massive part because he know the research put into this set, but it also sounds like a weapon adaption the Romans would add).

    Besides the Optio staff is very clearly a long walking staff, and the club is so short I thought it was a sling till this thread based on sprue shots I have seen of this kit.


  • This one supports the club idea as well:


    This, and the earlier painting appear to be depictions of the Battle of Turin 312AD:

    Note that it states the iron tipped clubs were used by Constanine's cavalry.  But maybe some Legionaries had them?


  • @Mark Dewis the clubs were primarily used against cataphracts. 

  • As a former student, then reenactor in Ancient History (Roman Republic), can I give an indication ?

    In Roman society, the stick, BACULA, is the real and more ancient sign of authority : shepherds had the PEDUM, schoolmasters had the FERULA, lictors had VIRGAE, centuriones had the VITIS... and OPTIONES had the HASTILE. That is a long stick finished with a metallic ball.

    The OPTIO was the centurio's assistant. In battle, he stood behind the ranks, to keep the formation cohesive and aligned. He also had the function of discouraging runaways. At camp, he served as sergeant-major (adjudant-chef de compagnie) : he was responsible for discipline and acted as administrative NCO. The centurio was the brave leader, the father of his troopers ; the optio was the oldest brother... Together, they had what Romans called POTESTAS and AUCTORITAS, the divine power of "life and death" and the human right to command and punish.

    In Roman society, former optiones often formed the basic structure of police forces (VIGILIAE) in Roman cities. Others were employed as administrators and executive officers in prisons, mines and State yards, ports and ships, as tax collectors, and so on... In the army, some could become SIGNIFERI (standard-bearers), others CENTURIONES.

    This stick, HASTILE, is not a weapon stricto sensu, but a honorific (mark of rank) and utilitary (you can hit your men) sign of power.


  • By reading my post, I realize that I have overlooked mistakes... Sincerely sorry : the Anglo-Saxon world is far away from home !

    Latinists will correct BACULA (nom. and acc. plural) by BACULUM (nom. sing.) : in my basque dialect, we always employ the old (and latin) word MAK(h)ILA.

    The latin texts call the mace and the war-club CLAVA, a weapon used more by Barbarians and auxiliaries than by regular Roman soldiers. The war-club bearer was a CLAVATOR or CLAVIGER. But at war, Romans were pragmatic warriors : if you had brave men able to face, hit and kill horsemen with war-clubs, OK (campaigns of 272, Syria).  

  • it is worth notingthat the Optio's knobbed staff did originate as a club, one of their main jobs was enforcing discipline both on and off the field, and ensuring that troops stay in formation and not retreat in battle. so early on when the roman military was forming they carried clubs for use in punishments, and that club evolved into their symbol of office. and the size of the hastile varied by century, unit, and individual offcer.

  • I agree with you, Mithrill, particularly on both the utilitarian and symbolic aspect of the military objects ; and on the homogeneous rather than uniform appareance of them.

    I personnaly believe that the HASTILE (litt. small spear) origin is a bladeless spear rather than a staff. As today we give medals to the braves, the Romans usually gave them jewels (torques, fibulae), phalerae and spears of honour (HASTAE).

Please login to reply this topic!