You don’t mess with the Romans. These guys knew how to capitalize on their strengths and use things creatively to their advantage. Learn from them and use their methods in your own creative life.
Photo Credit Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
1. Honing the Craft
The first thing the Romans are known for is their unmatched success in warfare. They established themselves from the beginning as masters of war, despite dizzying odds against them. So how did they do it?
A. They Trained
They practiced, they drilled, they made no exceptions. The Romans scorned the weak and rewarded the strong.
B. They were Disciplined
Most of the armies of the time fought with uncontrolled savagery. They held nothing back and put their all into the battle. The Romans on the other hand were cold and calculating in their attacks. They exploited their enemies’ lack of organization by out-maneuvering with a more mobile army.
C. They Set Aside the Proper Resources
It was a citizen’s duty to serve in the military for a certain part of their life. Romans also used military careers as a means of advancement to political endeavors. The more glory gained on the battlefield, the more successful they were in politics. These philosophies coupled with the funds granted from the Roman legislation gave Roman Generals the proper resources to conduct successful military campaigns.
D. They Breathed in Warfare and Exhaled Victory
The common Roman soldier, unlike soldiers of other places, was not afraid of war; he embraced it. It was the highest honor to die with a sword in your chest, and the highest shame to die with a sword in your back. Retreat was more than frowned upon and war was a way of life. When the Romans were not at war, they picked a fight to start another one. It was this common goal among the people of Rome that united them and made Rome strong enough to overcome their internal struggles between plebeians and patricians. Things really started to fall apart when they were at peace.
Another admirable trait of the Romans was their persistence and determination. The Romans refused to be beaten.
A. A Roman Loss was Only a Temporary Setback
Have you ever heard of the term pyrrhic victory? It comes from the Pyrrhic War in which the Romans were temporarily defeated by King Pyrrhus. The king’s victory costed him so much that the Romans simply came back with fresh recruits and obliterated his remaining troops.
When the Romans lost an army in a battle, they simply built another army and went at it again with renewed vigor and anger from the first loss. If that failed, they built another army and did it a third time. They would continue to rinse and repeat until they won.
B. If Faced with an Impassable River, Build a Bridge
When Julius Caesar was fighting the Gauls, he needed to capture the eastern territories which were occupied by Germanic tribes. These tribes didn’t think Caesar would be able to cross the Rhine River as it acted as a natural barrier between the two groups. Caesar ordered a bridge to be built across the Rhine as a showing that nothing was out of his grasp. The bridge was built in 10 days and spanned more than 300 feet across. Back then, this was considered an impossible feat during wartime, especially with the enemy on the other side of the river. Today the bridge is considered a masterpiece in ancient architecture.
C. If You Can’t Win, Cheat
The Romans were terrible with ships. When fighting the first Punic War, they developed a device to mount on their ships called the Corvus. This was a bridge of sorts that had a giant spike underneath it. The Roman naval strategy was to get as close as they could to a warring ship and forcibly lower the corvus, puncturing the enemy’s deck with the spike and securing a walkway for Roman soldiers to get across and destroy the enemy seamen. This enabled them to capitalize on their strength – hand to hand combat.
3. Research and Preparation
No one was more prepared for war than the Romans. When it came time to fight, they had done their research and had considered things that others had not.
A. Study the Enemy
The Romans knew who they were fighting. They knew the enemies numbers, cavalry, infantry, and position. All of this was taken into consideration before engaging.
B. Every Detail Counts
One of the details that made Romans so successful was preparing their supply lines before battle. The Romans would build a road to the hostile area in order to make supplies easier to deliver. If a road already existed, they would repair it and make it as travel-worthy as possible.
C. Don’t Forget About the Aftermath
After the Romans conquered a land, they set up tributes to be honored by the conquered land. It was a way of taxation which made Rome rich (think of all the lands they conquered). They also traded with the conquered people and gained new ideas, new technology, new philosophies, and many more things. The Romans also gave the conquered people protection from enemies and martial order. Most people who were conquered had a nice life. They weren’t as rich as Rome, but they could (for the most part) retain their customs and live relatively undisturbed so long as they paid their tributes.
4. Tell Me More
Ancient Roman history is rich with insights and interesting stories that inspire, enlighten, and delight. Can you see how much of this strategy can be applied to a creative strategy? So much can be gleaned from Roman history, but that’s true for any culture. What other insights did you get from these small accounts of Roman history? Let me know in the comments.