(ORDO NEWS) — It takes great confidence and courage to face the heavily armed Roman army without armor and clothing. But that is exactly what the group of Celtic mercenaries known as the Gaesatae did.
These brave naked warriors used tactics that allowed them to be very fast, display their courage and intimidate the enemy with their muscular physique. But this, of course, was deadly!
At the end of the 3rd century BC, a coalition of Celtic tribes from Cisalpine Gaul (a part of northern Italy inhabited by the Gauls) attempted to attack the Roman Republic.
This coalition included insubres, boi and tauri. One of the decisive battles during this war was the battle of Telamon, which took place in 225 BC.
The Greek historian Polybius (“History”, 2:28, 2nd century BC) described the battle in detail, in which he said that the Gaesati mercenaries fought naked:
“Insubres and Boi were dressed in their breeches and light cloaks; but the Gaesati out of vanity and bravado, they threw off these clothes and fell naked before the army, having nothing but their weapons.
Their nakedness, according to Polybius, was explained, firstly, by practical considerations – “they thought that this way they would be more effective, since some areas of the earth were overgrown with thorns that could catch on their clothes and prevent them from using weapons.”
Secondly, the sight of naked warriors was supposed to intimidate the enemy and demonstrate their confidence.
Unfortunately, the nudity of the Gaesates became their disadvantage when they encountered the Roman spear-throwers at the battle of Telamon:
“After all, the Gallic shield does not cover the whole body; so their nudity was a disadvantage, and the larger they were, the more likely the throwers in them get in.”
In the end, unable to drive back the javelin throwers because of the distance and hail of spears, and being in utter confusion and confusion, some of them, in impotent fury, rushed at the enemy and gave their lives, while others, retreating step by step through the ranks of their comrades , plunged them into confusion with their display of weakness. Thus the spirit of the Gezati was broken by the darts.”
The Roman victory at Telamon marked a turning point in Celtic dominance in northern Italy and the Balkans, followed by a period of rapid expansion of Roman influence to the East.
Contact us: [email protected]