The balteus is the traditional Roman soldier’s military belt, but the term “balteus” can also refer to the baldric-style belt used to carry a gladius, pugio, loculus, etc. When you think of the Roman soldeir, one of the things you think of, is the dangling straps (called baltea) hanging at he front of his belt.
The balteus is a mark of a soldier—not only that, it’s really a status symbol of being a soldier. Worn at all times, even off duty, only soldiers were allowed, by law, to wear this unique belt. It may have had some defensive capabilities; it may represent rank or awards…we just don’t know. The archaeological evidence suggests that many of these belts were were intricately elaborate. One theory is that since Roman soldiers did not have a lot to spend their pay on, they spent it on making their gear fancier. Is this the way it was? We don’t know, but modern soldiers sure do this kind of thing — think about it…
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All photographs were taken by the author, Victius Maximus
My thanks to Optio Gaius Allius of Legion XIV and Verulamium Museum for their assistance