Throughout the Ancient World, cavalry service was the preserve of Social Elites, and the Romans were no different. To serve in the Roman Cavalry was a mark of distinction and was heavily wrapped up in the concept of Virtus, or ‘manliness’ as it pertained to aggression and martial valour, character traits highly regarded in Roman Society. Many of Rome’s richest and most notable individuals could claim to have served in its cavalry units and many used cavalry service to attempt to undertake ‘monomachy’, or one-on-one combat with a notable adversary, in order to win the ‘Spoila Opima’ – a sure pathway to climbing the Cursus Honorum and Social / Political recognition – the pursuit of all senior Roman citizens.
Polibius tells us that the Roman cavalry often behaved recklessly in their pursuit of conspicuous valour. They were adept at leaping on and off their horses and may have dismounted to fight (which would have eliminated much of the perceived disadvantage they might have suffered from being lightly armed). Polibius says they were clad only in ‘underwear’, and carried light spears and shields, which were only replaced by more Hellenic cavalry equipment possibly late in the 2nd Century BC. There are numerous anecdotes of ex Cavalrymen pointing to the scars and wounds on their torsos earned in combat, in order to assert their dominance in social or political contexts. For more information on the complex background to Roman Cavalry and their Socio-political context, I would highly recommend Jeremiah B McCall’s book on the subject.
This set includes 3 Unarmoured Equites on bare-backed horses, complete with shields. The figures are supplied with open hands for the addition of wire spears, but are also supplied with cast spears with hand attached, for those that prefer not to use wire. 28mm metal figures