The Manipular formation used by Republican Roman Armies (circa 218 -168 BCE)


Jan van der Crabben
by Garrett Kochom
published on 19 April 2012

By the late fourth century BCE Rome had conquered much of modern day Italy and was a maturing power in the Mediterranean. In the First Punic War (264-241) Rome defeated Carthage and acquired Sicily as its first overseas province. The late third century saw Rome again at war against Carthage and the two powers vied for control of the Mediterranean on an even greater scale. As the second century began Rome found itself embroiled in the affairs of the Hellenistic Successor Kingdoms of the Greek East. Historians recognize that the Romans succeeded in building their empire, and as such it follows that the Romans were successful in battle against their enemies for several centuries. While many Classicists claim that Rome was successful in the various wars because of the alliance system that afforded her a massive reservoir of manpower, this is simplistic. Vast reserves of manpower were important in long drawn out wars, but individual battles were won by other means. Although the Romans were not universally victorious, they had a clear penchant for winning battles.

The tactically superior manipular formation that the Romans employed against their enemies was the main reason for this superiority. The Romans gradually shifted from the more conventional phalanx formation to the manipular, trilinear organization throughout the mid to late fourth century. By the end of the third century it had been in use for over a hundred years. The new formation offered significant tactical advantages to other formations in use and was particularly effective against a phalanx if used correctly. Four battles in particular demonstrate how the legion and its unique tactical structure were successful against the phalanx.

Remove Ads


BA Thesis, University of Wisconsin, 2010

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

Written by Garrett Kochom, linked by Jan van der Crabben, published 19 April 2012. Source URL:

Disclaimer: Ancient History Encyclopedia claims no authorship, intellectual property, or copyright on the material below. It is used solely for non-profit educational purposes, and none of the data is stored on our servers. If you want this content to be removed from the site, please contact us.

Remove Ads


Help us write more

We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Each article costs us about $50 in history books as source material, plus editing and server costs. You can help us create even more free articles for as little as $5 per month, and we'll give you an ad-free experience to thank you! Become a Member

Recommended Books

Sorry, we haven't been able to find any books on the subject.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Kochom, G. (2012, April 19). The Manipular formation used by Republican Roman Armies (circa 218 -168 BCE). Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Kochom, Garrett. "The Manipular formation used by Republican Roman Armies (circa 218 -168 BCE)." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified April 19, 2012.

MLA Style

Kochom, Garrett. "The Manipular formation used by Republican Roman Armies (circa 218 -168 BCE)." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 19 Apr 2012. Web. 23 Sep 2019.

Remove Ads


Powered by Mailchimp


Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week:

Are you a...?

Remove Ads


Medieval Magazine

The Medieval Magazine
Remove Ads


Our Videos

You can also follow us on Youtube!