In 1977 at ancient Satricum (Central Italy) archaeologists unearthed a stone block bearing a dedication "of the companions of Poplios Valesios to Mars". Obviously these men were up to no good, as they sought the favour of the fearsome god of war quite possibly for a warlike venture. In their day and age, around 500 BC, warfare in Italy meant cattle raids, pillaging and abducting neighbours, preferably women come wives. All-out battles were still a very rare occasion, "big men" gathered their retinues rather for seasonal bashings, competing for individual glory and the next big haul. In fact, such actions make up the core of Roman mythology. For any wargamer with an interest in skirmish games set in the Ancients period stories like the battle of the Horatii, the Fabian attack on Veii or the defection of Coriolanus are pure gold.
So, over the next seven days I'll be posting my very own retinue of (very ancient) Roman ne'er-do-wells. First and foremost this is an opportunity to paint up a small number of great models from one of my favourite settings. A fun project inspired by the august memory of our first Seven Days of Antiquity
. No actual gaming might result from that, as to be expected from me.
We start at the very top, of course: Poplios Valesios himself!
Whether he's to be identified with P. Valerius Poplicola, the legendary man who helped overthrowing the Etruscan kings of Rome, or not – during the 6th and 5th century BC Etruscan influence on Roman culture was still strong. This is reflected by Valesios' shield, bearing the face of χarun
, a demon much nastier than his Greek namesake, the ferryman Charon.
Like any erudite aristocrat Valesios also knows how to dress properly. Linen cuirass, a curved blade and greaves complete his Greek hoplite gear, the hallmark of truly civilised people. The masked helmet may be a concession to his less cultivated retainers. Well, the design is admittedly too late for 500 BC, since the range by Aventine is aimed rather at the 3rd century BC onwards. But I love the model too dearly.
The season is almost over. Who will answer his call to arms? Stay tuned.