Iberian falcata image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Luis Garcia During Scipio’s time, many of Rome’s enemies (think Gauls) were slashers, slashing down with their long swords, beating through helmet and shield. But then Scipio encountered the staunch Celtiberians, who fought with their cleaver-like falcatas. The Celtiberians used their double edged blades to stab and thrust as well as slash, making them a fearsome combatant. Scipio so admired the falcata that he developed a new falcata-based Roman sword, the famed Gladius Hispaniesis (see The Three Generals by Martin Tessmer). Roman gladius image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Pumont. This wasp-waisted, double edged sword meant his men could stab and chop (shudder!) as well as slash, if necessary. The design facilitated the fearsome shove-and-stab fighting tactics of his legions: …the Roman soldier was trained not to use it as a slashing weapon … The shield parry followed by a sharp underthrust to the chest or belly became the killing trademark of the Roman infantry. Richard
Scipio’s introduction of the gladius hispaniensis changes Roman battle tactics.