Pompey has been exiled from Rome by his treacherous former ally, Julius Ceaser, after his failure in the civil war. While in exile, he happens upon a mysterious looking ship from the future that he takes residence in. An intelligent man, he discovers how to use it after educating himself on its technology. The ship is able to grow sperm and egg cells from scratch, which allows it to grow humans in vitae wombs at an exponential rate. With this tech, Pompey decides to create an army for himself and take revenge against his hated rival.

These soldiers are grown to adulthood within the vitae womb within 3 years. They are implanted with Pompey's knowledge of the time period, as well as battle tactics while in utero. They are trained mentally and physically while growing, raised in a virtual world to work together, and function as a cohesive army. They are also instilled with complete loyalty to their creator and made to be very disciplined without fear. When they are decanted, they are at the physical and mental maturity of 25 years. These men are the perfect warriors in every regard except one: they have lower amounts of testosterone than usually found in males, due to some quirk in the ship's tech that can't be repaired. Due to their lack of testosterone, they lack sexual urges, are smaller in stature than most soldiers, and lack much muscle mass. But like the good Lord Jupiter says: when you are given lemons, make lemonade. Pompey decides to improvise and work with what he has.

Pompey doesn't want to attack Rome immediately, but work his way up to that goal by conquering other countries first by defeating their armies. After taking over other nations and building his own empire, he will eventually turn his sights toward his prize and murder Caesar. It takes time and resources to produce each batch of soldiers, and they cannot be easily replaced. Pompey would like to get as much mileage out of his men as he can, so each batch is an investment. How can he turn these warriors into an effective fighting force ?

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    $\begingroup$ How many troops can he breed at a time? $\endgroup$
    – Pliny
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Too much is unknown. They grow to full adulthood in just 3 years - how is that affecting their mental capacity and level of training? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ "Due to their lack in testosterone, they are smaller in stature than most soldiers, and lack much muscle mass." Actually eunuchs are well-known to grow bigger than unmolested males. It's compicated. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ the don't have a penis Lacking a penis is not the same as castration. Not having a penis would present the problem of how the body disposes of liquid waste. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ An intelligent man, he discovers how to use it after educating himself on its technology Not a chance, IMO. Why would he even start investigating and how would he investigate ? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 18:05

4 Answers 4


While your question presents many more issues than just lack of testosterone, that's what I will address.

Women are not men minus testosterone, but they do have levels that are probably what you're imagining (a small amount but not zero).

  • The average woman has less muscle mass than the average man.
  • The average woman is shorter than the average man (plus many ethnic groups have shorter statue than others and this doesn't affect their militaries).
  • The myth is that women have less sex drive than men. Even if we say it's true, this is generally an advantage for soldiers as they have fewer distractions when they should be fighting or training and are less likely to make stupid decisions in order to get sex.

Women make effective soldiers. The only reason they aren't used more in the militaries of the world is cultural (plus some practicality since the best soldier age is also the best childbearing age, but obviously you won't have that issue). Many militaries train and use female soldiers and they're quite effective. Ditto police departments and other security.

As long as your battles don't completely rely on your men being tall and muscular, there should be no problem at all. Even if your battles are hand-to-hand combat, training generally outweighs size and even strength (your soldiers will be very strong regardless), especially if the training accounts for these issues.

Edited to add some sources regarding women in the military. I am not endorsing any political views, just looking at the factual information. I still hold that an army made up of highly trained adults (of any gender) who are shorter and have less muscle mass than the average male soldier will still be an effective fighting force.

As for the gear question, this SE question indicates that gear probably weighed 60-100 for most soldiers in various pre-industrial periods. But if you have an entire army with similarly sized soldiers, you can plan ahead and account for the weight of the gear. You'll drop some weight because smaller people have smaller clothing/armor and need less food/water. You can also use pack animals, pack people, or rotate gear duty with carts. Same as any army did. (And btw, my 60 year old, 4:11 (150 cm) skinny female friend with osteoporosis regularly goes on rigorous backpacking trips where she carries all of her own gear and a share of the team's.)

  • $\begingroup$ "Women make effective soldiers." That assertion (especially when it's 60BC and soldiers carried a lot of gear) requires credible citation. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn and legionaries had a lot of physical exercise and training. Marius worked his soldiers like a mad man too reduce baggage trains via carrying more gear. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not so sure. There's no pill or efficient sanitary products. Quote "The operational issues of menstruation and unintended pregnancy, ..., can decrease a female member's military readiness and affect her ability to deploy. Strategies to mitigate and even eliminate these concerns include the optional use of hormonal medications to induce reversible menstrual cycle suppression. These medications, traditionally indicated for contraception, should be considered essential for female troops during training and deployment. " ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17274258 $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ 1) Yes, it can be an issue. But there are hormone rods that work for, I believe, up to 5 years when inserted into a woman's arm (they can be removed early if desired). No need for regular injections, pills, or patches. 2) Incognito's soldiers may have the size and muscle strength of the average very fit and well-trained woman, but they won't have any of the uterine complications. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ That is not the point. Incognito's soldiers are male. They do not have uteruses to deal with. My point is that they have a similar height and muscle size to modern day female soldiers. The care and keeping of menstrual cycles in Roman times is simply not relevant to this particular question. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 23:44

Assuming Pompey can produce an effectively infinite number of soldiers in 3 years, then the obvious method is to swarm the enemy.

First, let's say he trains a million soldiers, a very large number in ancient military terms, he needs to feed them. There is no single area in the ancient Mediterranean region that can feed an additional million mouths. He'll have to ship them off as quickly as possible.

Since they are all loyal, and as intelligent as he is, he needs not worry about them going AWOL. So, he sends a few hundred thousand to Germany, a similar number to Spain and likewise to Greece, Libya and so forth. Their orders: to conquer and hold those territories in his name, and after garrisoning their target locations to send forces to invest Rome. Meanwhile, he retains about one hundred thousand with him.

As the various colonies are attacked and fall, Rome will be forced to respond and send out troops, leaving what they can to defend the city. As news keeps coming of all their colonies being attacked, the generals in Rome will work out that the actual target is Rome and recall the forces they sent out. Hopefully, some of those forces will have run into the expeditionary forces sent out by Pompey's captured colonies and will, at the worst case, been decimated while destroying them, before returning, injured to Rome. At best, the Roman army will have been beaten and absorbed into the expeditionary army and will be marching to besiege Rome.

Once Pompey hears of the Romans falling back to their capital, he will take his reserved troops and march directly on Rome, where he will reunite with his various armies that will have surrounded Rome by then.

Inside, the morale will be terrible, as, month before the invading army arrived, they would have been seeing their battered legions limping back into the city, with news of pursuing armies. By the time Pompey arrives, the city will have been cut off from supplies, while Pompeys' legions can be supplied by the colonies they captured. Eventually, veni, vidi, vici.


As posited, the question says Pompey requires 3 years to produce expertly trained, cohesive soldiers with perfect morale and obedience.

Let's assert a few things clear:

  • The dominant military unit of the time was a phalanx or other highly organised infantry. The reason not everyone used phalanxes was the difficulty in training units to sufficient skill and steadfastness

  • Ancient warfare saw armies break and rout at low casualties (let us
    say 10%, which seems roughly in line with approximate mortality rates from Nathan Rosenstein's Rome at War). High morale is an incredible advantage.

Compared to this, a slight loss in physical strength is a negligible disadvantage. Strength is just not the most important trait of a soldier in the Roman era; it is heavily outweighed by skill-at-arms, skill-in-formation, and army obedience.

Speaking more technically on the biological effects, the full impacts of human castration are not perfectly defined, but are thought to include unusual height and a progressive osteoporosis that often manifests in deformity a few decades after castration (https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/84/12/4324/2864451).

Overall, for story purposes, the psychological impact of an army of falsetto murder giants would more useful than the losses in physical strength are costly.

PS. Three years for perfectly trained adult soldiers is AMAZING. Takes 18 years to get a normal adult, and fully competent veterans will require more than 3 years of work (although you can get a functional soldier in a briefer training period).

  • $\begingroup$ By the time of Pompey a Phalanx was horribly outclassed. Heck the up start Romans beat the Macedonians mainly because maniples are much more flexible then a Phalanx. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ Strength is very important for soldiers, especially pre-modern soldiers, because they have to carry heavy equipment for long distances. True, strength is not the most important thing in a pitched battle, but it IS very important for the other 99% of soldiering. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan_L
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 22:54

You can't. A military force requires a certain degree of aggression, and even a modern mechanized military requires a lot of brute strength to function. Castration Very effectively reduced the aggressiveness of your soldiers and cuts their physical strength.

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    $\begingroup$ I would argue that while that would be true for untrained "soldiers" a trained person could treat it like a job, esp in advanced worlds where brute strength means less and less. $\endgroup$
    – Supamee
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ There are multiple reasons that women do not perform as well in the military, that all come down to how the body processes testosterone. Training will never change the limits on aggressiveness or willingness to hurt or kill another human being the same way that steroids will. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 23:35

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