chapter  14
19 Pages

Climate and courage

ByGeorgia Irby

Introduction In de Re Militaris, Vegetius (late fourth century ce) provides valuable insight into the ethnographic outlook of the Roman military machine, whose prejudices stem from longestablished climatological theories. He includes a particularly intriguing tidbit concerning where best to recruit soldiers (Mil. 1.2): men from cold climates have an overabundance of blood, but they lack intelligence-a state not conducive to camp discipline. Those from warmer regions may have more intelligence, but their paucity of blood renders them afraid of receiving wounds and, therefore, they make poor soldiers (see further Aristot. Pol. 1327b).1 The best troops are levied from temperate climates. Vegetius here strongly evokes Vitruvius (6.1), who notes the same connection between climate, blood, and courage. Vegetius also echoes Strabo 6.4.1, who attributes the rise of Rome to her medial and temperate, yet varied, climate.