Battlefield Emotions in Late Antiquity: A Study of Fear and Motivation in Roman Military Treatises


Battlefield Emotions in Late Antiquity is a pioneering work, the first to present a comprehensive analysis of fear and motivation on the battlefields of Late Antiquity. By examining military treatises, Łukasz Różycki identifies means of manipulating the morale of soldiers on the same and on opposing sides, showing various examples of military trickery. The book analyzes non-combat properties of equipment, commanders’ speeches, war cries, keeping up appearances, and other methods of affecting the human psyche. The book is written in the spirit of new military history and combines the methodology of a historian, archaeologist, and philologist, and also considers aspects of psychology, particularly related to the functioning of groups and individuals in extreme situations.

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Łukasz Różycki, Ph.D. (1983), Adam Mickiewicz University, is an archaeologist and professor of ancient history, specializing in Late Antiquity and Byzantine military history. He is the author of numerous well-received academic articles and monographs, as well as translations from classical languages.
"Różycki skilfully lays out his ‘battle-plan’ on how to examine his sources, which vary from military treatises to narrative sources and archaeological evidence for the military equipment of Roman soldiers. [...] The concluding section neatly sums up the answers to the main questions asked in the introductory section and throughout the book [...] This new monograph brings to the forefront of modern scientific study the issue of battlefield emotions, including fear and post-traumatic stress, [...]. Różycki’s meticulous work is a big step forward on the road to understanding the battlefields of Antiquity, and the men who fought on them, their emotions and their ‘human’ reaction to success, adversity, hardship and defeat. Overall, this is a voluminous, yet very approachable, work with extensive bibliographical references to works in several languages (including Slavic; always the ‘handicap’ of western academics), and despite some minor editorial faults, it is a very welcome contribution in the field which, I hope, will stimulate further discussion in the future.
Georgios Theotokis, Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul, in De Re Militari 11 January 2022

 1 The Purpose of the Work and the Current State of Research
 2 Chronological Framework and Structure of the Work
 3 Methodology
 4 Issues of Methodology and Interpretation
 5 Sources

1 The Concept of War in Roman Military Treatises

2 Fighting Fear
 1 Fear as a Psychological Factor on the Battlefield
 2 Fear of the Dark
 3 Esprit de corps
 4 Fear of the Enemy
 5 The Ethnographic Context
 6 Fear of Combat
 7 Fear of the Unknown
 8 Fear of Equipment
 9 Fear of Service in Difficult Conditions

3 Weaponizing Fear
 1 Prisoners of War
 2 Scouts
 3 Barditus/barritus/nobiscum
 4 Hush …
 5 Charge
 6 Envoys and Spies
 7 Deserters and Traitors

4 The Commander
 1 Military Discipline
 2 Social Control System in the Roman Army
 3 Information
 4 Commanders’ Speeches

5 After the Battle
 1 Victory
 2 Pursuit
 3 Envelopment
 4 General Remarks
 5 Spoils and the Wounded
 6 Indecisive Battle
 7 Defeat

6 Conclusion
 1 Sources
 2 Modern Works
Of interest to scholars dealing with the Antiquity or the Middle Ages, academics working in the overlapping area of history and psychology, and anyone with interests in military history.
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