The legionary represented on these photos is from the period dating from the third Punic War up to the reforms of Gaius Marius. This time period will mark a radical evolution in the Roman legions formation that will actually be made official at the end by the military reforms of Caius Marius.
The Princeps are the second line of battle of the legion, they represent the core of the Legionaries. Well equipped, in the prime of life, disciplined and experienced they are formidable fighters. He wears on its head a helmet of Etrusco-italic origin in bronze. Well built, it protects his head quite well. On the top of its helmet, Polybius tells us that they wear 3 feathers black or red about one-half feet long in length to make them appear taller.
His body is protected by a coat of mail or ‘’lorica hamata’’ that weights around a dozen kilos. It provides very good protection in close combat and is very flexible. He wears a belt that gradually begins to be decorated with metal plates during this time period. It serves a dual purpose of maintaining his mail shirt, and carries its hand weapons. The belt actually sustains some of the weight from the lorica, thus preserving the shoulders that would otherwise have to carry its total weight.
As can be seen the sword is worn on the right, and the pugio is worn on the left from the Iberian wars onward. He also carries a pilum as a missile weapon, and the great Republican shield used for his protection as well as an offensive weapon. He may wear puttees as shown by some frescoes and the lapidary. At this time the caligae, a strong sandal of peasant origin begins to replace perones which were a type of small enclosed boots from pastoral origins as well.
Legionary throwing his pilum
The great Republican shield well protects the whole body against ennemy projectiles such as on the right photo during the pilum throw.
Legionary throwing his pilum back view
How to hold the heavy pilum while the light one is discharged.
Legionary drawing his gladius.
On this photo one can better understand why the sword is located to the right side, allowing drawing without being hampered by the left arm holding the shield.
Legionary in the striking position.
The shield while protecting the upper body is also used to hit in an offensive manner, while the sword will also penetrate the opponent with its point.
The photos on the left show the unique and comfortable attachment system on this particular type of helmets.