Latin Honor Society hosts guest speaker for Roman military presentation


Guest speaker Richard Campbell shows off a standard Roman military sword and helmet. “This is a mid-century Pompeii gladius, named because so many were found in Pompeii during excavation,” Campbell said.

Riya Jones, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 24, Richard Campbell, a member of the Legio XX group, presented for Jefferson’s Latin Honor Society and for the third-year Latin students. Legio XX reenacts ancient Roman military tactics and handmakes Roman weapons, armors, and tools using authentic ancient methods.

“Even though the Latin threes have a pretty small background, I think they were able to relate to a lot of what he was saying, and tie it into things that we had read and seen,” Latin teacher Patricia Lister said.

The Jefferson Latin teachers reached out to Campbell, who agreed to do a presentation centering on Roman military tactics and strategy available during eighth period and in class for third-year Latin students, who are currently learning about the Roman military.

You will find roads being built by legions, cities and towns, aqueducts, you name it–[the Romans] seemed to build it.

— Richard Campbell

“I realized it’s so much easier to have a guest speaker than normal, so we should take advantage of it,” Lister said.

The presentation, which drew nearly 100 attendees, was hosted virtually by Campbell from his home, where he was able to show off an array of swords, daggers, pieces of body armor, and even medical tools.

“My favorite part was when Mr. Campbell was talking about the medical equipment. I didn’t realize how advanced Roman medical technology was,” senior Aaishi Uppuluri, who attended the lecture, said.

A section of the presentation was dedicated to explaining Roman medical techniques, during which Mr. Campbell revealed the Romans were sophisticated enough to perform cataract surgery. He also delved into the diverse jobs of Roman soldiers.

“You will find roads being built by legions, cities and towns, aqueducts, you name it–they seemed to build it,” Campbell said. “They built Hadrian’s Wall. The legions would go there and compete with each other to build pieces of the wall.”

Mr. Campbell and Legio XX typically present at the Virginia Junior Classical League Convention in November. However, since this year’s convention was also virtual, the legion did not have the opportunity to do an in-person demonstration.

“In person he wouldn’t have been able to talk to as many people at one time, but I think also in person you would actually be able to touch all the swords and spears and shields, which would’ve been fun,” Uppuluri said.

The Latin teachers are hopeful to continue hosting similar guest speakers in future years.

“If we do it in person, that opens up a lot of possibilities,” Lister said. “If we go outside they could show us formations, which might be really cool.”