Ludi Megalenses 2761 AUC (Nova Roma)/Naumachia
This year for the Ludi Megalenses (Megalesia), Quaestor Hortensia, Editor of the Games, has approved for a Naumachia to be held in the Flavian Amphitheatre.
The Megalesia traditionally held no munera gladiatoria, venationes or circenses, rather it was a cultural week filled with theatrical performances. This year, we will host a naval theatrical performance in the Colosseum, flooded with water from the nearby Aqua Anio Novus aqueduct.
The naumachiae were reproductions of famous naval battles and were staged in a suitable place, that could be flooded. The actors were generally criminals already condemned to death. These shows - which were apparently held only in the city of Rome - were extremely expensive, because the ships had to be complete in all their details and manoeuvred like real ships in battle. The Romans called these shows navalia proelia (naval battles), but they are commonly known by the equivalent Greek term naumachia, which came to indicate at the same time the show and the basin built for it.
Since the cult of Cybele was introduced to Rome during the Second Punic War, the teams for this Naumachia will be Roman versus Carthaginian. This nautical performance will reenact the naval Battle of Lilybaeum in the summer of 218 BC, the first naval clash between the navies of Carthage and Rome during the Second Punic War.
Background of the Event: The Carthaginians had sent 35 Quinqueremes to raid Sicily, starting with Lilybaeum. The Romans, warned by Hiero of Syracuse of the coming raid, had time to intercept the Carthaginian contingent with a fleet made of 20 Quinqueremes and capture several Carthaginian ships.
To enroll in the Naumachia, please submit the below enrollment information NO LATER THAN April 4th to:
Naumachia Enrollment Information
A. Your Roman Name
B. Name of Trierarchus (ship's captain)
C. Name of Ship
NOTE: Ships were commonly named after gods (Mars, Iuppiter, Minerva, Isis), heroes (Hercules), and concepts such as Trust, Loyalty, Victory (Concordia, Fides, Victoria)
D. Description of Ship/Crew (on-board weaponry, main sail color, about the crew e.g. criminals/convicts or actual sailors, etc.)
NOTE: All ships in the naumachia will be Biremes. A bireme, or Roman Galley, is an ancient greek naval ship that was 80 feet (24 metres) long with a maximum beam length of around 10 feet (3 metres). It was modified from unireme (a ship that had only one set of oars on each side) but the bireme had two sets of oars on each side, hence the name. It also had a large square sail. This ship was also used by the Romans frequently and was used the second of Caesar's invasions of Britain. It evolved into the trireme. in "Bireme" "Bi-" means two and "-reme" means row. Often there would be a group of marines and a unit commandant (the commandant was given a tent on the open deck).
E. Carthaginian Team (Reds, Greens) or Roman Team (Whites, Blues)
F. Type of Attack:
-  *Ramming opponents*, rams used to sink an enemy ship by holing its hull, when driven against its flank under oar power.
-  *Deck-mounted ballista*, like their land-based counterpart, used to bombard the enemy ships with missiles, such as arrows.
-  *Deck-mounted catapults*, like their land-based counterpart, used to bombard the enemy ships with missiles, such as rocks and incendiary devices (fireballs).
-  *Sweeping the oars*, ship's hull used to ride across and break the oars of an enemy ship, immobilising it, then boarding it.
-  Iuppiter (Albata): God of Rome
-  Tanit (Praesina): Goddess of Carthage
-  Yamm (Russata): Carthaginian God of the Sea
-  Neptune (Veneta): Roman God of the Sea
Points will be awarded to the winners and counted in the Gladitorial Championship as follows:
- 1st Place - 12 points (last floating ship)
- 2nd Place - 10 points
- 3rd Place - 8 points
- 4th Place - 6 points
- 5th Place - 4 points
- 6th Place - 2 points
- 7th+ Place - 1 point
The Naumachia Lilybaeum in the Flavian Amphitheatre
3:00 PM ~ Live at the Colosseum
Salvete omnes! This is by M. Verus Paenula, bringing you LIVE REPORTING from the Flavian Amphitheatre this cool, wet, rainy afternoon for the Naumachia of the Megalesia!
Citizens and non-citizens alike are arriving here in Roma for the event, which has brought a large number of ships and boats into the Port Tibernius. Many veteran marines and sailors, both merchant and naval, have come to the city for this special nautical event.
As we make our way into the Colosseum, the streets are filled with vendors pressing their nautical wares on every citizen that they can cast their net on. Need a trident or model Roman Galley or bottle of Garum, Well, you can find it ere! Neptune and Mercury have obviously directed their attention to the Forum Romanum and plaza outside the Amphitheatre today!
Let's walk around and speak with a couple of the vendors.
3:10 PM ~ Before the Games
As we make our way through the crowds, we see one of our esteemed citizens, Gaius Vipsanius Agrippa, mercator and owner of Harpax working wildly with his assistants to serve a large group of customers at his display booth. Agrippa, tell us a little something about your business, Harpax. So, what kind of a name is "Harpax" anyway?
Agrippa smiles and states…
The name comes from a grappling hook fired from a Roman navy vessel.
One of the superb tactical innovations developed by Marcus Agrippa, the harpax was designed to be fired from a catapult at an approaching enemy ship, smashing into a hull to connect the two vessels. The Romans then reeled in the foe, smashing their oars and making them susceptible to attack by the highly skilled Imperial Marines. The harpax enjoyed its greatest hour at Actium, on September 2, 31 BCE, when the fleet of Octavian (Augustus) routed the ships of Antony and Cleopatra. Using the lighter Liburnian vessels, Agrippa, Octavian's admiral, moved around Antony's heavier ships, pinning and boarding them."
Harpax was created to offer Nova Romans with quality licensed products and clothing. Ten percent of all of our sales are given to the treasury of Nova Roma to help fund things like scholarships for students of Classical history, the purchase of land, and donations for the restoration of ancient sites like the Temple of Magna Mater. As we are located in Castellum Augusti (otherwise known as Edmonton), another ten percent of all of our sales will be donated to help our efforts in western Canada.
Thanks for taking time out from sales to speak with us, and may Mercurius and Neptune continue to bless your business for the rest of the day!
Agrippa waves, then shouts over the hum of the crowd for us to make sure and visit him online in the Macellum!
Across the plaza, we can see the Sodalitas Militarium display, currently being manned by Militarium Commander and Praefectus Castrorum, Marcus Minucius Audens, and Praefecta Navalis, Pompeia Minucia Strabo, who is set to officially start the day's event in the Colosseum here shortly.
As we make our way over to the Militarium display, Senator Audens waves and welcomes us in. Praefectus Strabo offers us a small tester bowl of fish chowder, flavored with garum.
Looking at the display we see several items on loan from the Museums at Ravenna and Misenum.
Senator Audens can you tell us a little about the Roman Navy, I mean, about the Fleet itself?
Senator Audens lights up, remembering his days on the Rhine River Patrol, and explains:
The Roman Navy was always considered an inferior arm and was strictly under army control. But already during the First Punic War, Rome proved itself capable of launching a fleet capable of checking an established naval power such as Carthage. Romans were no sailors though. They had no knowledge of ship building. Their ships were in fact built copying the example of captured Carthaginian vessels, combined with the expertise supplied by the Greek cities of southern Italy. Rather unexpected success in battle was obtained by a logical Roman idea that a warship was little more than a floating platform on which the soldiers could be brought into close contact with the enemy.
For this purpose they invented a huge boarding plank with a large spike on the end, which could be raised and lowerd like a drawbridge. Before battle it would be raised and then dropped onto an enemy's deck. The spike would embed itself into the oppnent's deck planking and the legionaries could board the enemy vessel across it. This elaborate contraption was called 'the raven' (corvus) This invention gave Rome five victories at sea. However, it is believed that it's weight, carried above the water line, also made the ships unstable, and could in rough seas cause them to capsize.
In effect, much of this achievement of their sea victories was minimized by the losses the Romans hence suffered at sea. Partially the corvus might well be responsible for some of these losses. But generally it was the inept way the Romans handled their vessels as well as their ill fortune in running into several tempests.
It is possible that Rome's losses at sea through lack of seamanship and ignorance of navigation had her rely completely on the Greek cities to provide ships when they were required. But as Rome gained control of the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, so the sea power of the Greek cities declined, and in the years 70-68 BC the pirates of Cilicia were able to carry on their trade with impunity right up to the Italian coastline.
The threat to the vital corn supply was such that the Senate was stung into action and gave Pompey an extraordinary command to clear the seas of pirates. He achieved this in only three months. Far too short a period in which to have built any ships of his own. His fleet was largely composed of vessels pressed into service from the Greek cities. After this there is evidence of fleets kept in the Aegean, although they may not always have been in great fighting condition.
It was the civil war between Caesar and Pompey which so clearly demonstrated the true significance of sea power and at one time there had been as many as a thousand ships engaged in the Mediterranean. As the struggle continued Pompey's son, Sextus, acquired a fleet sufficient to keep Octavian at bay and endanger the grain supply to Rome.
Octavian and Agrippa set to work to construct a large fleet at Forum Iulii, and train the crews. In 36 BC Sextus was finally defeated at Naucholus and Rome became, once more, mistress of the western Mediterranean. The final event of the civil war was the Battle of Actium, which destroyed Antony.
Octavian was left with some 700 ships of various sizes, ranging from heavy transports to light galleys (liburnae, which were his private property and which he manned with slaves and freedmen of his personal service. - No Roman citizenry ever handled an oar ! These ships formed the first standing fleet, the best ships forming the first permanent squadron of the Roman Navy and established at Forum Iulii (Fréjus).
Augustus saw, as with the army itself, the need for a permanent arrangement for maintaining the peace, but the most strategic and economical situations for the main bases had yet to be evolved. Forum Iulii controlled the north-western Mediterranean, but soon further bases were needed to protect Italy itself and the corn supply to Rome and the Adriatic. an obvious choice was Misenum on the Bay of Naples, and considerable harbour works and buildings were started by Augustus, the port thereafter remaining the most important naval base throughout Imperial times.
Augustus also constructed a new naval harbour at Ravenna at the head of the Adriatic, helping to deal with any potential trouble form Dalmatia and Illyria, should it arise. Another important area which Augustus felt needed special care and protection was Egypt, and it is probable that he founded the Alexandrine Fleet. (For services to Vespasian in the civil war it was rewarded with the title Classis Augusta Alexandrina). the squadron had a detachment along the African coast at Caesarea when Mauretania became a province and may have been responsible for supplying the armies sent there under Claudius.
A Syrian squadron, the Classis Syriaca was believed by later Roman historians to have been founded by Hadrian, but it is believed that is was created much earlier. Along the northern frontiers squadrons were created to meet the needs along the coasts and rivers as the empire expanded. The conquest of Britain involved massive naval preparations. Ships were assembled at Gesoraicum (Boulogne) and this harbour remained the main base for the Classis Britannica.
The fleet naturally played a vital part in the conquest of Britain, in bringing supplies to the troops. One of the finest recorded achievements in the conquest of Britain is the circumnavigation of the Scotland under Agricola, proving that in fact Britain was an island. In AD 83 the fleet was used to soften the position in Scotland by making lightning raids up the east coast; it also discovered the Orkney islands.
In the campaign against the Germans the Rhine played a major role. Squadrons of the fleet were operating along the lower stretches of the river as early as 12 BC under Drusus the Elder, but with as yet little understanding of the tides his ships were left high and dry in the Zuyder Zee and his forces were only saved by the Frisian allies. Drusus also constructed a canal to shorten the distance from the Rhine to the North Sea. This was used by his son Germanicus in AD 15, in whose campaign the fleet was again much in evidence.
But the stormy weather of Northern Europe generally proved a lot to handle for a Roman fleet more accustomed to the calm waters of the Mediterranean. The fleets both in Germany and Britain suffered heavy losses throughout.
Although its activities could hardly be called distinguished, the fleet of the Rhine did receive the title Augusta from Vespasian an later shared with the Lower German units the title pia fidelis Domitiana, following the suppression of Antonius Saturninus.
The headquarters of the German fleet, the fleet of the Rhine, or Classis Germanica, were at today's town of Alteburg near Cologne.. There were probably other stations lower down the river, especially near the mouth, where navigation became hazardous.
The Danube, the other great natural boarder guarding the Roman empire from the northern hordes, has a natural division into two parts at the Iron Gates in the Kazan Gorge at it was probably difficult to pass in times of low water. The river thus came to have two fleets, the Pannonian fleet, Classis Pannonica, in the west, and the Moesian fleet, Classis Moesica, to the east.
The Pannonian fleet owed its creation to the campaign of Augustus in 35 BC. The natives attempted naval warfare on the Sava river with dugout canoes but with short-lived success.
Hostile patrols and supply routes along the rivers Sava and Drava became factors in this campaign. As soon as the Danube became the frontier the fleet was moved there, although Roman patrols will have continued along the main southern tributaries of the great stream.
With Trajan's conquest of Dacia added the need also patrol the northern tributaries- and furthermore the need to guard the coast toward the vast Black Sea, the Pontus Euxinus.
Extensively colonized by the Greeks in the eighth to sixth century BC, it did not attract any serious attention from Rome until the reign of Claudius; until then power had been invested in friendly or client kings.
Little attempt had been made to control piracy. It was the annexation of Thrace which brought part of the shoreline under direct Roman control and there appears to have been a Thracian fleet, the Classis Perinthia, which may have been of native origin. The Armenian campaigns under Nero's rule led to the taking over of Pontus , and the royal fleet became the Classis Pontica.
During the civil war following Nero's death the Black Sea became a battleground. The freedman Anicetus, commander of the fleet, raised the standard of Vitellius, destroyed the Roman ships and the town of Trapezus and then turned to piracy assisted by tribes from the eastern shore who used a type of boat known as camera.
Thus, a new fleet had to be fitted out and this, with legionary support, frown Anicetus into his stronghold at the mouth of the river Khopi on the east shore from where he was alas surrendered to the Romans by the local tribesmen.
Under Hadrian the Black Sea was divided between the Classis Pontica, responsible for the southern and eastern parts of the Black Sea, the mouth of the Danube and the coastline to the north as far as the Crimea was the responsibility of the Classis Moesica.
Thank you Senator for that detailed explanation. Now we know a little bit about the history of the fleet, Praefectus Strabo, can you tell us something about the organization of the fleet and about the naval battle depicted here today, so that some of our readers who are not familiar with the Navy can understand the events they will be watching in the Colosseum here a short period from now?
Praefecta Strabo takes a sip of Falernian, smiles, then explains:
The commanders of the fleet were praefecti recruited from the equestrian order like those of the auxiliaries. their status in the military and civil hierarchy underwent changes in the first century AD. At first there was a tendency to use army officers, tribunes and primipilares (first centurions), but under Claudius it became linked with civil careers and some commands were given to imperial freedmen. Though this proved unsatisfactory, one need only look at the example of Anicetus to understand why.
There was a reorganization under Vespasian, who raised the status of the praefecture, and the command of the Misene Fleet became one of the most important and prestigious equestrian posts obtainable. This, together with the praefecture of Ravenna, became a purely administrative position with active service a very unlikely event. The praefectures of the provincial fleets ranked with auxiliary commands.
The lower commands present a complex system. In the first place many of these positions were Greek, owing to the origins of Roman navigation. The navarch must have been the squadron commander, the trierarchus a ship captain, but just how many ships constituted a squadron is unknown, although there are indications that it might have been ten.
The basic difference between army and navy was that navy officers could never hope for promotion into another arm, until the system was changed by Antoninus Pius. The highest rank any sailor could achieve until then was to become a navarch.
The ship was commanded by a Trierarchus, the ship's Captain. Each ship had a small administrative staff under a beneficarius and the whole crew was considered a century under a centurion assisted by an optio.
Presumably the centurion was responsible for the military aspects and had under his command a small force of trained infantry who acted as a spearhead in an assault party. The rowers and the other crew members would have some arms training and would have been expected to fight when called upon. The exact relationship between centurion and trierarchus may have been difficult at times, but custom must have established precise spheres of authority.
The sailors themselves were normally recruited from the lower ranks of society, but were free men. However, the Romans had never readily taken to the sea and few sailors would have been from Italian origin. Most would have originated from amongst the sea-faring peoples of the eastern Mediterranean.
Service was for twenty-six years, a year longer than the auxiliaries, marking the fleet as a slightly inferior service, and citizenship was the reward for discharge. Very occasionally whole crews might for a special piece of gallantry be fortunate enough to receive immediate discharge and there are also cases where they were enrolled into the legion.
Today's naumachia depicts the first Roman naval victory during the Second Punic War with Carthage. It was during this time that the Cult of the Magna Mater, or Cybele, was brought to Rome. Today's event will reconstruct a small duel from the sea battle of Lilybaeum. The Colosseum has been flooded with water from the nearby Aqua Anio Novus aqueduct.
The Battle of Lilybaeum was the first naval clash between the navies of Carthage and Rome during the Second Punic War. The Carthaginians had sent 35 Quinqueremes to raid Sicily, starting with Lilybaeum. The Romans, warned by Hiero of Syracuse of the coming raid, had time to intercept the Carthaginian contingent with a fleet made of 20 Quinqueremes and capture several Carthaginian ships.
The Roman navy had been mobilized in 219 BC, fielding 220 Quinqueremes for fighting Illyrians. Publius Cornelius Scipio received 4 legions (8,000 Roman and 14,000 allied infantry and 600 Roman and 1,600 allied horse) and was to sail for Iberia escorted by 60 ships.
However, Gauls of the Boii and Insuber tribes in north Italy attacked Roman colonies of Placentia and Cremona, causing the Romans to flee to Mutina, which the Gauls then besieged. Praetor L. Manlius Vulso marched with 2 Roman legions, 600 Roman Horse, 10,000 allied infantry and 1,000 allied cavalry towards Cisalpine Gaul from Ariminium. This army was ambushed twice on the way, lost 1,200 men, and although the siege of Mutina was raised, the army itself fell under a loose siege a few miles from Mutina. This event prompted the Roman Senate to send 1 of Scipio's legions and 5,000 allied troops to aid Vulso. Scipio had to raise troops to replace these and thus could not set out for Iberia until September of 218 BC.
Consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus received 4 legions (2 Romans and 2 allied, 8,000 Roman and 16,000 allied infantry and 600 Roman and 1,800 allied horse) and instructions to sail for Africa with escorted by 160 Quinqueremes. Sempronius had set sail for Sicily, where he was to complete his preparations for invading Africa.
Hannibal had dismissed his army to winter quarters after the Siege of Saguntum. In the summer of 218 BC, Hannibal stationed 15,000 soldiers and 21 elephants in Iberia under his brother Hasdrubal Barca, and sent 20,000 soldiers in Africa with 4,000 garrisoning Carthage itself. The army that marched for Italy from Cartagena supposed to have numbered 90,000 foot and 12,000 cavalry, and 37 elephants. Hannibal divided his army into 3 column before crossing the Ebro River, and attacked the Iberian tribes of Illergetes, Bergusii and Ausetani in Catalonia. In a 2 month long campaign, Hannibal subdued parts of Catalonia between the Ebro, the Pyrenees and the Sicoris river in a swift, if costly campaign.
The Iberian contingent of the Punic navy numbered 50 Quinqueremes (only 32 were manned) and 5 triremes, which remained in the Iberian waters, having shadowed Hannibal's army for some way. Carthage mobilized at least 55 Quinqueremes for immediate raids on Italy and Sicily.
The Carthaginian navy struck the first blow when a fleet of 20 Quimqueremes, loaded with 1,000 soldiers, raided the Lipari Islands. Another group of eight ships attacked the Vulcan islands, but were blown off-course in a storm towards the Straits of Messina. The Syracusan navy, then at Messina, managed to capture three of the ships without resistance. Learning from their crews that a Carthaginian fleet was to attack Lilybaeum, Hiero II, who was at Messina awaiting the arrival of Sempronius, warned the Roman praetor Marcus Amellius at Lilybaeum.
The Carthaginian fleet was hampered by bad weather and had to wait before comencing their operation. Although the Romans only had 20 ships present at Lilybaeum, the praetor, after receiving the warning from Hiero of Syaracuse, provisioned them for a long sail and put in a proper contingent of Roman legionaries on board each ship before the Carthaginian fleet appeared. He also posted lookouts along the coast to watch for the Carthaginian ships.
The Carthaginians had broken their journey at the Aegatess Islands, and when they sailed for Lilybaeum on a moonlit night, they intended to make their approach coincide with the dawn. The Roman lookouts spotted them well before they reached the harbour. As the Romans sallied forth, the Carthaginians lowered their sails for battle and moved to the open sea. The Carthaginians outnumbered the Romans, but their ships were undermanned and the Romans had the advantage of containing a larger number of soldiers aboard their ships. Playing to their individual strengths, the Roman ships tried to close with the Carthaginian ships and grapple them, while the Carthaginians tried to evade the onrushing Roman ships and ram them if possible. In the melee, the Romans managed to board and capture seven Carthaginian ships and take 1,700 prisoners. The remaining Carthaginian ships managed to retreat. The Roman losses are unknown.
The Romans had managed to thwart the attempt by the Carthaginians to establish a base in Sicily. The Consul T. Sempronous Longus soon arrived with his army and fleet in Sicily. He sailed with his fleet to Malta, where he captured the island and bagged 2,000 prisoners, along with the Carthaginian garrison commander, Hamilcar Gisco. He then sailed to intercept a Carthaginian naval contingent raiding the Vulcan islands. The Carthaginian contingent had sailed and raided the Roman territory around Vibo in Bruttium. Sempronis received the news of the Battle of Ticinus and was summoned by the Roman senate to aid Scipio. He posted 50 ships at Lilybaeum under Marcus Amellius, another 25 in Vibo, then sent his army via land and sea to Ariminium.
In today's event, we are using Biremes, due to the size of the Quinquiremes and limited space inside. Each team, Roman and Carthaginian, will have one ship. We have flooded the Flavian Amphitheatre and built an earthen mound in the center of the arena to serve as a representation of Sicily. On the mound is a large, golden trident in honor of Neptune, which the Carthaginian team will attempt to raid and obtain to win the naumachia. It is the job of the Roman team to prevent this from happening, and thus prevent "losing" Sicily to the Carthaginians. Who will win? We will just have to wait and see!
Thank you both for preparing us well before the Naumachia! We will see you both inside in a few minutes.
3:30 PM ~ Pre-Opening Ceremony
As we find our seats in the stands, we see Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana, sponsor of the Carthaginian Team. Silvana, could you please give us a preview of the Carthaginian Team we are about to experience?
Gaia Aurelia laughs and advises:
The Carthaginian Team has been organized by the Factio Praesina, namely the staff at the Ludus Praesinus, who have all worked exceptionally hard to prepare for the event. We will be representing the Factio Tanit, representing Tanit, the Goddess of Carthage.
The ship we are using today belongs to the Domus Aurelia and has been transported here via the Tiber River from our facilities in Ostia. In accordance with the rules of the Naumachia, our ship, the Ira Hori (The Wrath of Horus), is a bireme, or Roman Galley, an ancient Greek- style naval ship 80 feet (24 metres) long with a maximum beam length of around 10 feet (3 metres) with two sets of oars on each side. Our commandant has a dark green tent on the open deck. In the Carthaginian tradition for fighting ships, the stern rises higher than the bow, giving the commandant a clear view of the action. Our ship is called IRA HORI (Wrath of Horus) because one of the Deities of Domus Aurelia Falco is the Egyptian God Horus (also well-known to the Carthaginians).
Our main sail is Green (the owner being a member of Factio Praesina). The device on the sail is a gigantic Eye of Horus, with the center of the eye coloured red to show the great wrath of the God, which will burn the hearts of the enemy with fear.
Our ship's keel slices down from the bow to the waterline in a smooth, leading curve to draw the enemy oars under our ship. However, the keel lying beneath the hull is deeply saw-toothed. No oar can escape unbroken. In keeping with Phoenician /Punic tradition, our ship has massive bow oars and scull oars near the stern, for steering. Steering from bow and stern at the same time enables us to turn 180 degrees very, very quickly. The bow and scull oars can be clamped to the hull to serve as battering rams if needed, though this is not our primary tactic. Their position means that we can ram almost as well backing into an enemy ship, as charging bow- first. Our ship remains light and agile because it is not weighted down with a massive bronze ram. Also, we have it armed with grappling hooks and grappling pikes. Armoured marine troops with lances in first rank, all ranks armed with swords, daggers and small shields.
Our Trierarchus (ship's captain) is Himilco Gesco. Many may know his name by various spellings (Gesco, Gisco, Gisgo). Himilco Gesco was born in the powerful Carthaginian colony Eivissa (present Ibiza) in the Balearic Islands. Both names, Himilco and Gesco, ring through Carthaginian history, although these are their romanized forms. Himilco's Carthaginian name is Chimilkat. Sometime before 410 BC, one of his ancestors, also named Himilco, voyaged into the Atlantic Ocean and as far as Britannia. The name Gesco is also widespread among commanders of land and sea forces, and another ancestor of our Trierarchus was the Carthaginian war hero Gesco, who defended Lilybaeum in the First Punic War, negotiating the treaty when Rome defeated his fellow commander Hanno in 241 BC.
Our marine crew is comprised mainly native Carthaginian troops, whose forefathers got a taste of fighting as citizen militia putting down Carthage's internal rebellion years ago. They passed the fire of patriotism to their sons, eager to fight for the glory of their nation – and for a secure income. They are complemented by Spanish mercenaries with plenty of experience defending convoys of Carthaginian trading ships, who are eager to take the offensive. A small contingent of loyal Greek archers is trained to shoot from the rigging down onto the enemy ships.
Our common crewmen are of Greek origin, descended from Greek troops who fled to Carthage after the defeat of Pyrrhus by the Romans. Many also have fathers and grandfathers who were involved in internal rebellion after the First Punic war, so their hatred of Rome is channeled into rowing.
We will primarily be using the *Sweeping the oars* tactic: the ship's hull is used to ride across and break the oars of an enemy ship, immobilising it, then boarding it. We shall clip the wings of the enemy in honour of our patron Deity, Horus, then seize them in military talons and crush them as the deadly falcon crushes his prey. We thus honour the two chief symbols of Horus: the Eye of Horus, painted on our mainsail, and the winged disc of the sun., depicting his role as the falcon God of kingship, sky and victory.
Our main type of attack depends on the skill of Himilco Gesco, the angry strength of our Greek rowers, and our battle-hardened marine troops out to avenge defeats Rome has inflicted on Carthage, and on the Spanish captains of Carthaginian silver ships. Polybius in Book VI of his History, writes that the Carthaginians were, "more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people." And Himilco Gesco comes of a family deeply rooted in the (very successful) exercise of maritime affairs.
Our rowers have been drilled to perfection. On the drummer's signal, they can withdraw their oars inboard with lightning speed. When clear of the enemy ship, on another signal, their oar-blades fly through the ports into the water to circle for the kill: breaking the oars on the other side and then pulling close for .boarding. Our fighting marines will win over any enemy ship.
Thank you, Silvana, for the insight on what our Roman Team is up against on the deep blue sea today. Well, the water is only five feet deep for safety reasons, but it sounds good anyway!
As we move on through the stands, we see Vestal Maxima Valeria Messallina, sponsor of the Roman Team here today. Messallina, could you tell us something about the Roman Team!
Messallina smiles with a sarcastic grin and says, "No…", then chuckles and agrees to provide us with "very limited information" as not to give anything away!
Our ship is the Constantia (meaning Tenacity) and is the one down there with the deep sea blue main sail. It will be commanded by Sabinus, a veretan of the Roman Navy. He has personally selected a crew, made up of marines and sailors: the oars to be manned by convicts so any loss of life would not be Roman. The marines are Romans mixed with some tall Celts and Germans who have become Roman citizens. Each marine is armed with swords, daggers, bow and arrows, etc, whatever was used to fight with when they boarded a ship. We plan to use the *Sweeping the oars* tactic, where the ship's hull is used to ride across and break the oars of an enemy ship, immobilising it, then boarding it. We are representing the Factio Neptune (Veneta), so hopefully, Neptune we will be in Neptune's favor today!
Messallina, we wish you and your team the best! Vale and Good sailing!
Let's now watch as the opening ceremonies are now beginning…
3:45 PM ~ Opening Ceremony
The opening processional enters the arena on small barges, covered with various flowers, several troupes of musicians perform uplifting and triumphant tunes, as they lead the parade onto the water. Behind the musicians come members of the Sodalitas Militarium, Navalis Cohors, who will be boarding and inspecting the ships and their weapons used in today's naumachia. Next, comes the magistrate corps barge: the Curule Aediles, P. Memmius Albucius and Sex. Lucilius Tutor, followed by Quaestors L. Vitellius Triarius and M. Hortensia Maior and the Aedilian cohors. Behind them come the Consules, M. Moravius Piscinus Horatianus and T. Iulius Sabinus.
Behind the Consules, as the crowd erupts into thunderous excitement, as the Roman and Carthaginian Teams are shuttled out to their ships
As the musicians make a circle around the arena, then disembark to find their appointed seats, the Militarium inspectors finish their examination and certification of the ships and weapons and signal their approval to the officials. The Consules, now seated, await the start of the games, while Quaestor Hortensia ans Praefecta Strabo prepare to start the Naumachia.
Quaestor Hortensia makes the opening announcements:
"We welcome you to today's matches and ask that everyone refrain from throwing objects down into the water. Refreshments today are provided to Citizens as follows: Muslum is provided by the Quaestor's own Vitellian Vineyards in Ostia and cakes are provided by the Palatine Guild of Bakers. The Palatine Guild of Bakers uses only the finest Roman grain. The Naumachia will now begin!
With that, Quaestor Hortensia stands up, hands the mappa to Praefecta Strabo, who wraps the mappa around the end of an arrow, knocked by an archer from Legio XXIII, several times and then fastens the end of the mappa to the tip of the arrow. She signals to the archer, who slowly raises his bow toward the center of the arena. Another archer lights the mappa, then the shooter releases the flaming signal into the air. The flaming arrow, representative of the fireball munition rounds fired from a ship's ballista, soars over the crowd, across the water and finds its way to a permanent home, embedding itself in the earthen mound rising up out of the water in the center of the arena. The Naumachia has begun!
4:00 PM ~ NAUMACHIA!!!
As the flaming arrow lands in the mound, the teams prepare for combat! On the western end of the arena, the Carthaginians raise their main sail and the drum begins to beat its beginning page. Conversely, on the eastern end, the Roman Team hoists their deep sea blue sail, and the oarsmen are already rowing before the drummer starts his pace count.
As the Romans begin their engagement around the northern side of the mound, the Carthaginian captain immediately orders his ship to proceed around the southern side. With this, the Roman ship skirts the side of the mound and several armed Roman marines and archers jump ship onto the mound to provide a protective force on the island. This appears to be an early defensive measure to secure the trident in case of an early assault. The tactic works and the Carthaginian ship avoids the armed mound, proceeding around the mound to the east.
The Roman ship has now made it to the western end of the arena, and the Captain is ordering the oarsmen to do something…we cannot tell. It looks like he has ordered them to stop the boat. I'm not sure that this is a good tactic, but we will have to wait and see. Now the ship is pivoting to the left or port side on an oblique angle. It now comes to a stop.
The Carthaginian ship is now slowing to evaluate the change in tactics and counter whatever tactic the Roman Captain is about to employ. The Romans are now doing something on deck. There seems to be a lot of movement. The Carthaginians wait…
OOOHHHH! A large rain of flaming arrows have just been launched from the port side of the Roman ship. The Carthaginians brace for impact, but the arrows fall short and land in the water just short of the Carthaginian ship. That formidable Eye of Horus must be working!
Now, the Carthaginians man their ballista and return a length of heavy chain through the air, which hits right on its target…the Roman mast. Actually, it strikes near the masthead, breaking the top few feet of the mast and damaging the upper part of the sail.
The Romans return the favor with a series of fireball munitions, which land both on and around the ship! The Carthaginian crew attempts to extinguish the fire, with several sailors jumping overboard to put out the flames of their lighted tunics. Safety boats are rowed out into the foray to pick up the men overboard, who are now disqualified from competing. According to the rules of the Naumachia, if the sailors go in, then they come out.
The Carthaginians are now ripping the sail off the mast to prevent the main ship from catching fire! In the midst of the confusion, the Roman captain has order his oarsmen to advance. The drum beats and the oars rotate. The Roman ship is making their way around the island toward the Carthaginians. The Carthaginian artillery have not be lost in the confusion and have been preparing for another counter attack. Now they launch more chain rounds toward the oncoming Roman ship. This is a frontal assault, so they do not have the luxury of a broad target, but they do have the element of depth if they can manage to lay their rounds in a line down the length of the ship, which they do! The rounds land at various points down the length of the ship from the bow to the mast. Several of the chains strike the main sail, shredding it to rags! The remainder land on the deck, causing mass chaos and reeking havoc among the marines and oarsmen. The Roman Captain demands that the crew maintain a steady fast pace, directly aiming for the side of the Carthaginian ship on its port side.
The Carthaginians brace for a ramming impact to the side, but the Carthaginian Captain, being a seasoned veteran, immediately orders the oarsmen to retract their oars and for the marines to prepare to board! The confused crew complies, just as the Roman ship makes a sharp turn to the left, retracting its oars and preparing to board. The Roman plan has been foiled as Carthaginian Captain anticipated the tactic and was correct!
With the oars retracted, the sweeping tactic is useless. The Carthaginian Captain quickly realizes that the Roman ship is coming alongside, which places the Roman between his ship and the island mound. Not good odds at all for winning! The Carthaginian Captain orders the archers to quickly launch repetitive volleys of arrows onto the Roman deck and to keep them pinned down! The archers start firing and the Roman marines move into a testuto formation. The Carthaginian starboard oarsmen are now rowing and a top level pace, which is pivoting the ship to the starboard side. In just a couple of minutes, the Carthaginian ship has pivoted enough for the port side oarsmen to advance their oars and begin rowing the ship out of harms way! The Carthaginian Captain makes a fast move, attempting to dart around the front of the Roman ship and run aground on the island, allowing his marines to disembark and seize the trident for the win!
But, wait! What is this!! The Roman Captain has his oarsmen rowing at top speed and is attempting to ram the side of the Carthaginian ship crossing in front of him!!! The Carthaginians are bracing for impact!
And…CRASH!!! The Roma ship makes contact, ramming the Carthaginian ship in the side! The Carthaginian bireme now had a cracked hull and water is seeping in through the side. The range was not enough for the Roman ship to gain enough momentum to hit the Carthaginian ship with enough force to rupture the side, but it has done enough to cause minor disabling damage.
The Roman marines have now launched their first harpex, followed by other grapping hooks, to the front of the port side of the Carthaginian ship and are pulling the ship around to board it. Some of the Carthaginians are attempting to cut the ropes, but the Roman archers are taking them out as soon as the step up to the rail to cut the ropes!
The ships are now side by side! The Carthaginian archers have dispatched the Roman marines on the island without any real effort, but the ship is not close enough to the island to make landfall. Some of the Carthaginian marines are launching grappling hooks onto the island, but there just isn't anything for them to latch onto!
The corvi are down and the Romans are boarding the Carthaginian ship. The melee is unbelievable! Oarsmen are jumping ship left and right to avoid injury from the hand-to-hand combat that is now brutal and in progress on the deck of the Ira Hori. The fighting is intense and continues for several minutes, until water starts coming up from the bottom and begins to flood the ship! Some of the Roman marines are attempting to reboard the Roman ship. This shift of weight on the deck is causing the sinking Carthaginian ship to list to the port side.
Several Carthaginians have made it onto the deck of the Roman ship, but have been disarmed and detained by the Roman oarsmen!
It looks like it is all coming to an end, as the officials signal for the rescue boats make their way out into the arena. The Carthaginian Captain is jumping up and down on the deck, refusing to give up and ordering his men to continue fighting!
OH NO! WHAT IS THIS!! Several Carthaginians have jumped overboard into a rescue boat, thrown the rescue staff into the water and are paddling fiercely towards the island to recover the Trident for the win!
The Roman archers quickly move to eliminate the small Carthaginian force, BUT, they raise a scutum on the stern, which prevents the archers from hitting their targets! It looks like the Carthaginians may win the event after all!! As they move in closer the shore, the Roman Captain directs all means of fire onto the little rescue boat, but it is too late, the Carthaginians have run aground on the island and are moving to take possession of the trident!
I AM NOT BELIEVING THIS! As the Carthaginians jump out of the boat onto the island, several of the Roman marines, who were suspected to be lost, jump up and begin finishing off the assaulting Carthaginian marines! The Romans were not injured…they were pretending to be injured or dead, but were actually lying in wait in case they were needed! The Roman Captain waves to the crowd which has just gone ballistic with excitement! A Roman Marine grabs the trident and, standing on the peak of the mound, raises the trident over his head in Victory!!!
The officials signal for the Sponsors and Team Captains to make their way to the awards ceremony. The Naumachia is officially over and the Romans have won it!!!
Victor: The Roman ship, Constantia, sponsored by Vestal Maxima Valeria Messallina and Factio Neptune (Veneta)
2nd Place: The Carthaginian ship, Ira Hori, sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana and Factio Tanit (Praesina)
5:00 PM ~ Closing Ceremony
As the officials clear the dock, the team captains from today's event disembark their boats and climb up the rope to the top of the dock. They are saluted by the Aedilician Cohors, and Quaestor Hortensia announces the Roman Team to be the Victors of the Naumachia! The Roman Team Captain, Sabinus, and his sponsor, Vestal maxima Valeria Messallina, are presented with an engraved golden bowl, depicting naval battle scenes around the outer side. Sabinus is presented with a gilded model Quinqireme, sporting a deep sea blue sail made from imported silk from Damascus. Vestal Messallina is presented with a special scroll, listing the Team Members, along with a chest filled with denarii and golden trinkets to help offset the costs of repair to the ship.
Himilco Gesco, Captain of the Carthaginian Team, is presented with a special scroll, listing his crew in the Naumachia, and his sponsor, Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana, is also presented with a chest filled with denarii and golden trinkets to help offset the costs of repair to their ship as well.
The crowds are now leaving the Flavian Amphitheatre and spilling out onto the streets. Many are going to the Forum Boarium, near the Port Tibernius, for the evening's festivities, which include a theatrical play by Plautus and a special musical presentation by local groups near the Temple of Portunus, and where an elaborate feast is being presented by the various food vendors in the city near the Temple of Hercules Victor.
This is M. Verus Paenula, bringing you LIVE REPORTING from the Flavian Amphitheatre and we will see you here again soon! Have a great Ludi Megalenses!
Di vos incolumes custodiant!
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