Like most ancient soldiers, the Romans used war cries to scare their enemy, display strength and eagerness, and heighten individual and shared determination. But the demands of discipline and tactical unity required them to instead exercise restraint. Recurrent shouting caused alarm or impulsive action among both men and horses, and obstructed the communication of commands. Because of this, battle cries were only allowed immediately prior to or upon engaging the enemy in close quarters. The strict compliance of silence until this moment left opponents anxious, intensifying the psychological impact of the battle cry.
In the 4th century, the Roman army favored the barritus, a war cry of Germanic origin, apparently mimicked from a battle custom widespread among infantries from East of the Rhine. It began as low murmuring and gradually evolved into a loud roar. The term barditus was also used to describe the way in which Germans chanted songs in the battlefield, which amplified and echoed within the curvature of their shields. The late Latin form most likely evolved from a twist on barditus under the influence of an existing Latin word barritus, a “trumpeting” of an elephant. Later, battle cries increasingly took the shape of Christian prayers, most notably “God be with us”. Towards the end of the period, “God, help us,” was officially sanctioned. If victory was apparent, other slogans were chanted to better fit the occasion. But if not, the Germans would chant these songs in order to incite the mind to victory and come together as one to frighten the enemy they had surrounded.
Jumping to the 21st century, we now come to Barritus Brewery. A brewery, which was formed with the stated mission to hire and give back to battle heroes in need who have served or continue to serve this country. Our quest is to make the finest beer and merchandise for all to enjoy with the promise to provide 10% of all brewery sales to The Barritus Foundation. Furthermore, to ensure that these heroes receive your donations, The Barritus Foundation is managed by warriors who have or are currently serving. They know the ropes and have had their fair share of battle cries. All in all, we hope to show our veterans how much we truly appreciate them, while enjoying a fine glass of beer.
For more detail on the origins of the word barritus, see War Cry by Philip Rance.