Roman Concepts of Military Leadership

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Leadership can be defined as “the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.” While the wording comes from the United States Army’s Leadership manual, the same principles applied to the men who served in the Roman army, both the Republic and the Empire. From 508 BC to 1453 the Roman’s would be a considered a “superpower” in the world with “all roads” leading to Rome as the old proverb explains. A superpower is maintained with a strong military and Rome was no exception. During her reign, Rome saw a vast number of generals and leaders that would stand out over time. Three of these leaders would be Trajan, Marius and Scipio Africanus. These three generals would have great impact on the Roman army and its establishment of their power.

Marcus Ulpius Trajanus “was not a Roman aristocrat but a Spaniard from far off Italica (now Seville). Trajan dreamed of leading soldiers as his father before him, but “could scarcely have dreamed of sitting upon the throne of Caesar himself.” Trajan took power in 98 AD, and unlike some of his predecessors, he “dreamed of military fame in the service of Rome.” Trajan saw Dacia as “the greatest threat to the Roman Empire aside the kingdom of Parthia” The Dacians (ancient Romania) were defying Roman power in the region under King Decebalus and “previous treaties had proved unsatisfactory”. Trajan personally traveled to the Danube region to conduct reconnaissance before committing troops to the task; he realized that the infrastructure in the region and the staging areas would make his soldiers vulnerable to attack. Trajan picked sites that could handle bridges and had twelve miles of road cut ...

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