Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ancient Spanish (Iberian) Project

A couple years ago, I was getting crushed in a 3 loss outing with my Gauls in a Field of Glory tournament.  My friend Brent stopped by and listened to my tale of woe. He thought for a minute and then suggested "Why don't you paint up a Spanish army?"  I laughed and said "So I should replace my Gauls with the only ancient army that's worse in FoG? I don't think so but thanks for the advice!"

I have wanted to paint up an Iberian army for some time but the beat downs I suffered with my Gauls in FoG put me off the idea entirely.  FoG v2 will offer significant improvements for barbarian armies like the ancient Spanish, including the ability to deploy 1/3 of your Scutarii battlegroups as Superior.  That elevates the list from "speed bump" to "challenging to run."  The improvements were just good enough for me to put Brent's crazy idea into action and order 200 plus Spanish figures from Xyston. It kills me to say it but Brent is a visionary.

Before I pitch in with the new project, I've asked esteemed Spanish historian Antonio Banderas to give us an overview of the Iberian army I'll be painting. He also told me that my page views will double, on account of his animal magnetism.  So, take it away, Antonio...

¡Buenos días! So you want to learn about ancient Iberia and the ways of love, eh? Oh, I see.  You Americans only want to learn about Iberia. That is..not so surprising to me.  Very well.  A quick show of hands if you've read Plutarch's account of Sertorius in Lusitania. No? How many of you are familiar with the weapons of the Iberian warriors? Can anyone point out Iberia on a map?  Do any of you know what a map is? Oh my.  Since this is a remedial class, I'll speak slowly enough so that even Arizona State University alumni can understand.

The Iberians lived in tribal communities on the Mediterranean coast of Hispania. Their coastal settlements facilitated extensive trade with the Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians...and a tan and ruddy complexion which was much desired in the ancient world.  Which is also why the Romans invaded.  Yes, our silver mines were attractive but the real draw was our sunny beaches. And our knowledge in the ways of love. Italian men boast that they're the best lovers on the continent but everything they know, they learned from us! I've uploaded a map of Hispania with Iberia colored in gold.  ASU alumni may color in the rest of the map for extra credit, assuming you all haven't eaten your crayons.
The ancient historians describe 2 kinds of Iberian warriors and 26 kinds of Iberian lovers.  We only have time to discuss the warriors so I'll start with the Scutarii. They carried a broad oval shield known as a scutum and generally fought as heavy infantry.  
Scutarii  warrior with the broad oval shield known as a scutum 
The second kind of Iberian warrior was the Caetrati, who carried a small round buckler called a caetra.  They generally fought as light infantry. 
Caetrati in the foreground with the small caetra shield and falcata sword.  
Many Iberian warriors favored the Gladius Hispaniensis, a stabbing sword  so effective that Rome shamelessly copied it for her legionaries. Our complaint is still pending before the WTO so don't think for a minute that we've forgotten.  
Gladius Hispaniensis
Some warriors favored the falcata, a 2 foot curved sword that was capable of crushing helmets and lopping off limbs.  As for myself, I use mine to shave with.  Feel my cheek...smooth as a baby's bottom, no?  
The fearlessness and sword skills of the Iberians made them fearsome warriors.  They served Hannibal well during the Second Punic war and were much sought after as mercenaries. Need I mention that they were also the greatest lovers the world had ever known? But I digress...

People assume that Iberians fought exclusively through raids and ambushes and were incapable of sustained stand up fighting.  Professor Fernando Sanz rebuts these assumptions in his superb paper "Not so different: individual fighting techniques and battle tactics of Roman and Iberian armies..."  linked here.  He demonstrates that Mid-Republican Romans and Iberians fought in a similar fashion and that Iberians fought pitched battles in close-order formations. It's an excellent read if you have a few minutes and download-worthy if you don't.

Which brings me to my last point. There's a reason Roman and Iberian armies were not so different. Simply put, the Italians were copycats. They loved our scutum shields, gladius swords and javelins, so they copied them. They loved our beaches, our tan, ruddy complexions, and our ways with the ladies. Since they couldn't copy that, they occupied our lands to be more like us, spending HUNDREDS of years subduing Hispania. Long before Napoleon, we were a Spanish Ulcer for the Roman empire!

I'd like to direct my final comments to the Americans. Your country, she is 236 years old, no? You must be very proud of her. Of course you are! Oh, did I mention I live in a fine Spanish house that is 350 years old? Think about that. ¡Hasta luego!