OK, I know I skipped this last week. It was unintentional, I got so wrapped up in studying the helmet of salvation I skipped over the shield of faith. So here it is this week with my apologies.
The Literal Interpretation
The Romans had a long, rectangular, knees-to-chin shield which protected them from arrows and spears and could be knelt behind during an arrow barrage. It
was quite a bit heavier and clumsier that the smaller Greek circular shield; but
there was a series of exercises, a manual of arms, designed to give the
soldier flexibility and strength in the use of the shield. Groups of soldier who
were besieging a town could form close together and hold their shields over their
heads to make a huge circle to protect the group from fiery arrows.
The scutum was an impressive line of defense. Because of its sheer size (some were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide), soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies. Because of its slight curve, it was able to deflect attacks without transferring the full force of the assault to the man holding the shield. Because of its boss, it was able to deflect even the more vicious blows and function in a limited offensive capacity as a means of knocking an opponent backwards.
One of the more famous use of the Roman shield as illustrated in the movie “Cleopatra” was when Cesar sent out a “Tortisto” formation to attack a catapult.
In the testudo formation, the men would deploy very densely and position their shields at the sides (rather than by the grip behind the umbo).The first row of men, possibly excluding the men on the flanks, would hold their shields from about the height of their shins to their eyes, so as to cover the formation’s front. The shields would be held in such a way that they presented a shield wall to all sides. The men in the back ranks would place their shields over their heads to protect the formation from above, balancing the shields on their helmets, overlapping them. If necessary, the legionaries on the sides and rear of the formation could stand sideways or backwards with shields held as the front rows, so as to protect the formation’s sides and rear. In addition, the leather coverings could be dampened so that the fiery arrows would be doused upon impact.
The Spiritual Application