The Roman War Machine

Examine the history of Ancient Rome with The Roman War Machine, a four-part documentary series narrated by Joseph Campanella.

From its establishment in 300 BC to the crushing defeat at the hands of the German chief Akininis in 9 AD, The Roman War Machine examines every aspect of this legendary fighting force.

Throughout each episode we’ll take a closer look at ancient Rome’s war politics, Roman legions, commanders, their disciplined war tactics and battles.

See how Caesar used his soldiers for political gain as well as in the field of battle, follow Hadrian’s troops as they build instead of destroy, and learn what life was like for the common soldier with the help of ancient documents and historical re-enactments.

Episode 1: First Our Neighbours Then the World

Episode 1: First Our Neighbours Then the World

Episode 1 investigates historically how Rome became a dominant force in ancient Europe. We’ll take a look at the early battle of Veii, in which the Etruscan kings were routed, to the Celtic sack of Rome and the subsequent reorganisation of the army.

This same army would to wrest control of the Mediterranean from Carthage in the Punic Wars.

Late Roman Republican power struggles would culminate in leading Julius Caesar to the very top as a dictator. This resulted in the formation of the famed Roman army that forged the Empire.

Episode 2: Roman versus Roman

Episode 2: Roman versus Roman

Episode 2 features the points in history where the powerful new Roman military turned against its own leaders.

During Roman versus Roman we’ll focus on these civil wars and the reign of the first Emperor of Rome: Augustus.

Episode 3: Roman Siege Warfare

Episode 3: Roman Siege Warfare

Roman Siege Warfare details logistics and the mass mobilization of its troops which allowed Rome to conquer all before it.

Episode 3 examines the Roman siege equipment, including the devastatingly deadly bolt-firing catapults and stone-throwing ballistae.

Furthermore, we’ll investigate the sieges of Jerusalem (in 66 AD) and Masada in Judea. This is followed by a description of common soldier life at a Roman fort, such as Vindolanda on Hadrian’s wall.

Episode 4: Barbarians at the Gate

Episode 4: Barbarians at the Gate

Barbarians at the Gate documents that by the second century AD, the people ancient Rome had vanquished had developed territorial ambitions of their own.

In this final episode the steady decline of the Empire is sketched, the military reforms of Diocletian and Constantine are touched upon, as is the process of barbarisation of the army, before the collapse of the Western Empire in the fifth century. 

The Roman War Machine
  • Info
  • Release date1999
  • Full runtime3 hours
  • Also known asLa Macchina Da Guerra Romana
  • Narrated byJoseph Campanella
  • Production CompanyGreystone Communications
  • Produced forHistory Channel