HERE  IS  THE  EMPEROR  TRAJAN,  WEARING   A  PURPLE  CLOAK  AND  RIDING  A  WHITE  HORSE.

TWO  SOLDIERS  ON  HORSES  BRING  HIM  A  MESSAGE.

SEE  THEIR  OVAL  SHIELDS  AND  SANDAL-BOOTS  (CALIGAE).

THEY  HAVE  NO  STIRRUPS  TO  HELP  THEM  RIDE  THEIR  HORSES!

Trajan was, first and foremost, a military man – a soldier’s General. Here we see him as he is pictured so often on the Column, surrounded by his army – leading them to battle (as here), making speeches to them, sacrificing to the Gods on their behalf, sometimes in weighty discussion with his generals – and finally, at the victorious conclusion, being hailed as “Imperator!” by his men. He is always colour-coded in purple (which is also worn by his Praetorian Guard). All the colours are, of course, notional. They are used to differentiate the many elements of the Roman army and that of the opposition.

The special point of interest in this scene are the soldiers immediately behind the Emperor. They are auxiliaries/Mercenaries, recruited from Germanic tribes. There is no Romanisation at all in their appearance . They are often bearded, stripped to the waist, many armed with shield and club, or simply throwing stones. It certainly contradicts the view that “uniformity” was a  normal feature of Roman armies. The auxilia in general were heavily committed in this Dacian war – as they were in the invasion of Britain. The column shows a whole variety of ethnic types, all armed and dressed in their traditional manners.

As the garrison troops of the Lunt Fort were almost certainly Germanic, its interesting to ponder on just how “un-Roman” they might have looked!

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