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Аутентичные изображения опциона (optio) периода Ранней Империи.
Модераторы: Дмитрий, Клим

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Отправлено 15/4/2018 02:34 (#140499 - в ответ на #140498)
Тема: Грэм Саммнер



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Когда-то давно, лет 5-6 назад, когда он еще не попал под влияние Д'Амато, Грэм Саммнер писал на RATе:

The only evidence we have for an Optio's "uniform" is that sometimes we know they carried a staff. We do not know for certain if they had special armour or a distinctive helmet.

If in the past you have seen many Optio re-enactors wearing a similar outfit that is sadly because they have all copied the earliest re-construction of Optio equipment by The Ermine Street Guard. That in the main was based on the legionary tombstone of C. Valerius Crispus and not on any known Optio tombstone or equipment.


The only original images of optio's on their tombstones that I have seen do not show them in armour but in what could be called 'undress' uniform of a tunic and cloak. There does not appear to be anything out of the ordinary in what they are wearing but one could suppose that in reality their garments were made from better quality material than those worn by ordinary legionaries. These so called 'undress' clothes are likely to be a whitish tunic and a yellow brown cloak.

The optio would carry a staff but there is no general agreement on this either. The staff could be wood with a round metal knob at the top. However it could all be of wood painted or gilded. As a sign of his administrative duties the optio is sometimes shown carrying some wax writing tablets. However other soldiers carry tablets too.

To confuse things the general appearance of the optio was probably not all that different from another type of junior officer called a tessararius who also carried a type of staff and presumably writing tablets. It is possible that the Romans knew how to distinguish these soldiers from each other and the lower ranks but they have left precious little evidence for us today. There is a ring which has the words optio written on it but apart from that I do not know if anyone has even suggested whether the writing tablets and the staff were carried into action.

So overall probably slightly better quality equipment and clothing than ordinary legionaries.


The 'optio uniform' of black and white horsehair crest with a tail and white side feathers, mail shirt with shoulder doubling over a leather arming doublet with a white tunic and a satchel holding a tablet with a wooden staff with silvered ball was certainly used first by the ESG and copied by nearly every other group, illustrator and modeller, evidence for which you can see if you just Google image search Roman optio! :D


There are certainly a few sculptures which show an Optio in 'undress uniform' with his knobbed staff and wax tablet case. As far as I know there are none which show an Optio in battledress, either with or without the accessories, so it is hard to say for certain if they carried the staff into battle too.

I think the idea that the staff was used to push and keep soldiers in line during the march or in battle may have developed from the use of staffs by sergeants in eighteenth century armies who used a staff called a spontoon for such purposes, as well as it being a badge of office. I have not heard of any reference to an Optio doing that in Roman times.

The Optio wearing a mail shirt with shoulder doubling worn over a brown leather arming doublet, a black and white helmet crest, carrying a staff with a silvered knob and a satchel for the wax tablets, was an impression created within The Ermine Street Guard in the late nineties. It was quickly adopted by other societies and if you Google 'Roman Optio' it has also clearly become the standard appearance of the Roman Optio amongst model makers!

However as has already been pointed out apart from the staff and a single example of a silvered ring bearing the title 'optio ', there is precious little evidence for a specific Optio's uniform.

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