Roman legionaries were the foot soldiers of the Roman army, a professional military force of trained men. They were the backbone of the Roman Empire. The military dress of the Roman soldier consisted of just seven basic pieces of apparel and equipment, including a red tunic, sandals and a few modest pieces of armour. A Roman legionary costume can easily be made from objects you may already have on hand.
Try on the red sweatshirt first. It should extend past the waist to just above the knees. This is the basic tunic that most men wore in Roman society. Next put on the sandals, or caligae, meaning "boots." Virtually any modern leather sandals will work, however, ones with long straps that you can wrap around your ankles look best.
Cut eight strips of thin cardboard, approximately 60 cm (2 feet) long and 5 cm (2 inches) wide and cover them with aluminium foil. This is the portion of the armour, known as lorica segmentata, that covers the chest and stomach. You may have to adjust the size to fit your torso. Wire the strips together at the back, along the sides and along the front. Install wire clasps so you can fasten the armour together at the front. Next, cut six additional cardboard strips 35 cm (14 inches) long and 5 cm (2 inches) wide, and cover them with foil. Wire three pieces together to go over the shoulders on each side, and attach to the lorica segmentata with wire.
Wear the construction helmet with the visor in back and attach triangular face guards up front to clasp around your cheeks. Cut the face guards from cardboard and cover with foil. Use a piece of wire to clasp them together at the pointed ends beneath your chin.
Punch a hole at the top of the five 35 cm (14 inch) leather strips and attach them to a belt with wire, to be worn in the front. This apron served as rudimentary protection below the waist. Attach 4 washers to each strip, approximately 5 cm (2 inches) apart, using wire.
Wear the oversized belt over the shoulder. Attach the scabbard so it hangs down at your waist. A scabbard is a sheath for holding the sword. Round out the costume with a 1.8 m (6 foot) wooden dowel. This is a safe alternative to a pointed weapon used by Roman soldiers called a pilum.
For more authentic-looking lorica segmentata, replace the cardboard in Step 2 with aluminium roof flashing, a lightweight metal that can be cut with tin snips. Aluminium roof flashing is available at hardware retailers and can be cut to any size needed.
Tips and warnings
- For more authentic-looking lorica segmentata, replace the cardboard in Step 2 with aluminium roof flashing, a lightweight metal that can be cut with tin snips. Aluminium roof flashing is available at hardware retailers and can be cut to any size needed.
Things you need
- Oversized red sweatshirt or T-shirt, XL or XXL
- Sandals with long straps
- Cardboard strips
- Aluminium foil
- Construction helmet
- 35 cm (14 inch) leather strips, 5
- Leather punch
- 2.5 cm (1 inch) washers, 20
- Oversized belt
- Roman-style sword replica or toy sword
- 1.8 m (6 foot) wooden dowel