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"Republican Roman Cavalry Colors" Topic

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Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

I'm starting to paint the wonderful new Victrix Republican Roman cavalry set that just came out. At first, my intentions were to probably do them in the same vein as my legions, Italian allies, etc., where there is little uniformity other than lots of red and white. The Osprey book for the period shows white tunics with purple stripes and dark brown cloaks, but there is little else available to support this or for that matter any other sort of color scheme. How is everyone else painting their Roman cavalry for this era?

goragrad26 Oct 2018 12:20 p.m. PST

As equites I have always presumed that for the tunics they would wear the prescribed white tunica with the purple clsvi.

Cloaks I have done in shades of red.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2018 5:21 p.m. PST

I'm of two minds about this:

  1. Do a lot of historical research into what Roman cloth patterns looked like. There's probably not a lot of hard data, but cavalry were upper class, so should have nicely embellished clothing in variety of patterns and colors.
  2. Watch the old 60s sword-and-sandal movies and mine them for "Roman" clothing patterns. They might be make believe, but costumers sometimes did a good job of evoking class differences and personal style within a theme.

I personally frown on Romans with so much themed clothing they look like they're in uniform. Most of mine were purchased painted, and they look regular beyond the means of their state. The Republican Roman army was a citizen army, and each individual would have had some say in his own cloth apparel and accessories – especially rich equites.

- Ix

Swampster27 Oct 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

Clothes provided by individuals doesn't rule out a uniform appearance. Tradition and fashion can both result in a very limited range of colours.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP27 Oct 2018 3:58 p.m. PST

In fact, I would expect a limited pallette of colors from a single city-state like Rome, but I still wouldn't expect a group of a few hundred Roman equites to all look identical, which is what often happens to armies of painted miniatures. It can be difficult to make ancient armies look variable enough, given the limited number of poses for each variation of kit and class, and especially with state-armed soldiers like Romans with a regulated panoply. Paint is often the best or even the only crutch to add flair to the individuals in a unit. Even modern soldiers wearing mass-produced identical uniforms take on some individual appearance in the field.

The OP suggests aegiscg47 shares my prejudice for variation, so I spoke up. He chose a good line of miniatures to get individual flair and variation. I hope to see the results of his work sometime.

- Ix

goragrad28 Oct 2018 3:42 a.m. PST

Graham Webster's Roman Military Clothing discusses tunic and cloak colors, but is focused more on infantry and higher officers of the later Empire.

I use differing shades of red, white, or whatever the primary color is, to provide the variety in troops with an otherwise uniform appearance.

With the Republican Roman cavalry, the purple clavi at least are an indication of their rank in society – not something I would think they would dispense with. With that, I would doubt that they would choose tunic colors that would clash or obscure them.

P.S. Now my Greek cavalry being equipped by the upper class are far more colorful. Will be doing the same for the various Italians down the road.

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