****  ROMAN - Room 4  ****


****  AQUILAS / EAGLES  ****

**** **** **** ****


The Eagle (Aquila) represented the power of Rome and the Honor of the Legions.

The ancient Roman soldiers worshipped their military standards.  The Eagle (Aquila) was the most important of the standards.  To lose the Legion's eagle was the utter disgrace for the soldiers and officers.  Why was the eagle so important?

In Roman myth and religion, the eagle was the bird of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, who was the king of the gods.  His power was the legal right to rule as a just ruler.  His was the supreme “Imperium”.  Jupiter embodied Rome’s legal right to rule the other nations of the empire.

The Roman Empire was of course conquered by the brutal force of the Roman Legions. However, military force is not enough to rule.  The Romans needed a divine legal right to conquer other nations.  The symbol of Jupiter,  the Eagle, was a constant reminder of this special right of the Roman Legions to conquer.  It made their wars, just wars. Their deeds, rightful deeds. “Jupiter wills it”.

To lose the Legion's Eagle was to lose the right to conquer, in effect causing honourable Roman soldiers to become nothing more than a band of illegal killers and looters.

The Eagle as the symbol of the “Imperator”.

  All this was fine and just from a religious and legal point of view of Roman law.  Nevertheless, to conquer an empire you needed powerful armies and powerful leaders to sustain and command them.  The only living Roman who had the economical and political power to do this was the Roman Emperor.   He had been granted the “Imperium”, the legal right to rule the Roman world.  He became the living Jupiter on earth.

Therefore, the eagle was not only the symbol of the immortal ruler of the Romans, Jupiter, but also the symbol of his mortal counterpart, the Emperor.  By giving the Legions their Eagles, the Emperor placed the Legions under his command.  The Legions were fighting the Emperor’s battles, because he alone had the right to wage a just war.  The Eagle was a constant reminder for the soldiers that their battles were just and a constant reminder of their godlike supreme commander in Rome.

To lose the Legions Eagle therefore was to lose the legal right to fight and an insult to the Imperial Ruler.  An Emperor without his Legion's Eagles was symbolically powerless.

The Romans venerated power. This could be an immortal power or a mortal power. The fact that a god or a human being had some kind of power gave him a right to veneration.  A powerless god was not worth venerating.  A powerful man was.  If the powers of a mortal man were as large as the powers of an immortal god, that superman was venerated like a god.  And so were his power symbols.  The eagle was the power symbol of the Emperor, the mortal Jupiter on earth.  His practical and legal power to rule was venerated by his loyal troops. They venerated the powers of their supreme commander by venerating his Eagle.  (Text provided by a Roman Reenactment Group of Europe).

~Roman Standards and Aquilas / Eagles to be Posted on this Site Soon ~


* This Site is Under Construction - Items Posted in the near future *





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