Spatharioi are the infantry veterans of many campaigns, able to fight and survive. A band of brothers outfit, which saw the not so good among them die in the field. They form the core of the Spatharioi. Carrying a “Kontarion” spear as well as a “spathion” longsword, 36in long (excluding the hilt) and hung at the left hip. They carry a heavily reinforced kite shield in their left hand. Many promising recruits joined their ranks and after a few battles achieved veteran status. Not only able to hold the line, or fight to the last man, they also inspire other units to fight on. It is the premier infantry unit of the Roman Empire, not because of the money involved to recruit it, but for the fact that it would take many other units’ veterans to form a cohesive enough outfit, that the most promising recruits can be added into. They are armed in the best helmets Roman armourers can make, steadily refusing any western European influence, and have those helmets embellished with a plume reminiscing long lost times. They wear a “bambakion” which is a 2 inch or more thick cotton cloth padded gambeson – possibly the thickest gambeson of any infantry unit, an extra “lorikion” chain mail or scale armor hauberk up to their face, and on top of that an “epilorikion” (quilted cloth armor gambeson designed to absorb blunt trauma, like that of a mace). For neck protection they wear a full gorget, sometimes reaching up to the eyes. The Roman Empire's best of the best, they can die fighting but keeping them alive should be a priority, especially because of the morale boost they give to all surrounding friendlies. Old, grizzled veterans of the Roman Empire didn’t die or fade away, they just joined the Spatharioi, the most elite regiment of the Roman army. Much like the western knights and men-at-arms, Roman veteran infantrymen weren’t just trained on sword or spear but on any weapon the infantry would fight with. Those lucky raw recruits that did join in the ranks of the Spatharioi, would find themselves considered a veteran after a few battles, as the accumulated experience and battle savvy of those men did seep through the ranks. It is no secret that Spatharioi units are morale enhancers for even the lowest of Akolouthoi, as they not only inspire them by example, but also by their sheer presence. A painted scroll depicts an old infantryman sitting by the fire speaking to two young recruits. Presumably Spatharioi must have done the same on other Roman units, enhancing their morale. Armed with the best armor of the empire, they do proud themselves on their selective anachronisms. One of those is the plume on the head and the leather pteryges they wear to cover their vitals, both reminders of ancient times. They wear them to show they are the last holders of the line which goes back to Alexandros, Sparta and Emperor Oktavianos Kaisaras. In fact the name “Elite hoplites” could very well describe them, as “hoplites” are described in military texts of the Roman Empire. Spatharioi was in fact a very old outfit. Bodyguards in the time of Ioustinianos, they became honorary arm bearers, but the dire straights in which the empire finds itself in mean that no one can be spared and anyone who can grab a sword and shield had better done so, yesterday, hence the transfer back to active duty. Spatharioi draw their inspiration from one of the greatest Emperors of the Roman Empire, Basileios II the Bulgarslayer, who was buried in the Monastery of Mary in the Ebdomon suburb near the walls of Konstantinoupolis, in order to observe post mortem the Roman troops departing for war. Their battlecry if they had one, would definitely be one of Basileios II who when leading his men into battle well in his sixties cried : “Whoever is a soldier, follow me!”. This is the fighting tradition of the Roman Empire that Spatharioi, answering the call, must follow.