Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 5, Fighting for the Gods: Warfare and Religion

Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 5, Fighting for the Gods: Warfare and ReligionAncient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 5, Fighting for the Gods: Warfare and Religion

This issue of Ancient Warfare Magazine focuses on the role of religion, looking amongst other things at the religious beliefs of elements of the Roman army, its role in Sparta's actions during the wars against Persia, and the introduction of religious propaganda into warfare in Ancient Persia.

This issue has two articles of direct interest to me - the examination of the temple of Mithras at Brocolita, a site I have visited while walking Hadrian's Wall, and the examination of the devotio, the suicide in battle of a Roman consul - an event that took place in battles I have written about. The second of these takes an unusual approach to the issue, looking at the practical aspects of the act, which involved the mounted consul charging the enemy lines alone in an attempt to be killed in battle.

The theme allows the articles to cover an unusually wide span of time and subjects, from the first introduction of religion into warfare in Ancient Persia to the conversion of the Frankish king Clovis to Christianity in 496 AD, at the boundary between the Ancient and Medieval worlds. It also means that all but one of the articles are dedicated to the main theme, the one exception being a look at the fate of the Ninth Legion, widely but possibly incorrectly believed to have been lost in Scotland or during a revolt in Britain.  

This selection of articles demonstrates the wide variety of religious believes present in the ancient world and the very varied way in which they impacted on society in general and warfare in particular.

Chapters
The Source - Inside the temple of Mithras
Sparta Refuses to Fight - Pious inaction during the Persian invasion
Consular Suicide - The practicalities of devotio
Epona in Roman Service - Military worship of a horse goddess
'In the Name of Ahuramazda' - Darius' wars against the Elamites and Scythians
Off with their heads! - Headhunting and scalping in antiquity
Alexander the Invincible God - Uniting a diverse army through deification
The Frankish Constantine - Clovis' conversion at the Battle of Tolbiac, AD 496
The Weapon - Religion and the late Roman shield
The Debate - the fate of the Ninth

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