The Marriage of Roman Soldiers (13 B.C.-A.D. 235): Law and Family in the Imperial Army

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BRILL, 2001 - History - 470 pages
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In the first and second centuries A.D., Roman soldiers were forbidden legitimate marriage during service: nevertheless, many soldiers formed "de facto" marriages. This book examines the legal, social, and cultural aspects of the marriage prohibition and soldiers' families. The first section covers the marriage prohibition in Roman literary and legal sources. The second section treats social and legal aspects of the soldiers' families, including a survey of epitaphs, the legal impact of the ban on families, and alternatives to family formation. The final section examines the marriage ban as military policy and its relation to Roman culture. This book will be of interest to scholars of the Roman army, Roman social history, and family law. Students of gender and sexuality in the ancient world will also find it relevant.

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Roman Soldiers Relationships in the Frontier (a bibliographic Essay)
This example is generously supplied by Owen Hurst
Modern debates surrounding personal relationships developed between Roman soldiers in military settlements and women in canabae and vici, civilian communities, in the frontier provinces in the Imperial period, has received increased attention among scholars. Studies have attempted to explain how personal relationships were viewed by citizen soldiers and how the state viewed their relationships, with native women. Recent works on the relationships of low ranking soldiers explore literary and epigraphic records left from the provinces to obtain a greater understanding of the soldiers and the familial relations they developed on the periphery of the empire.
Soldiers in combat situations or stationed for long periods of time far from home developed close relationships with fellow soldiers, and the Romans in the frontier were no exception. Research conducted and presented by Ramsay MacMullen in “The Legion as a Society” reveal the strong ties that developed among soldiers of the frontier Legions. MacMullen examines sources left by soldiers such as personal letters, and tombstone inscriptions to determine that soldiers developed family-like bonds with their contubernales, members of the standard eight men barrack blocks within military bases. MacMullen explains further using modern examples to demonstrate how close community networks among soldiers enabled them to fulfill their individual potential as soldiers and enter into danger with thoughts for their comrade’s lives as well as their own. His examination of troops under Brigadier General Marshal and Veterans of the Lincoln Brigade reflect the same type of brotherhood that developed among Roman soldiers; that honour and reputation among comrades and pride in their outfit makes better soldiers. The development of strong bonds between soldiers served the dual purpose of developing a more reliable fighting force and giving men a sense of identity among their peers.
The recent work by Valerie M. Hope which examines tombstones and trophies commemorating Roman soldiers, reaches similar conclusions to MacMullen regarding soldiers’ relationships in military settlements. Hope’s examination of military tombstones and trophies is essential when explaining the relationships of frontier soldiers and how these relationships progressed after the formation of permanent military settlements. Hope explains that tombstones represent a level of stability and permanence in military settlements, and commemorations by soldiers reveal a supportive network of military comrades who acted as a pseudo family. MacMullen and Hope agree that soldiers in military settlements formed significant bonds; however this is brought into question by Adrian Goldsworthy who focuses on the daily duties and assignments of individual soldiers. Goldsworthy examines surviving duty rosters of soldiers, arguing that contubernium, the eight man divisions that slept together, would rarely have been together because Romans duties were assigned to individuals and not contubernales, as well as the fact that it is possible several soldiers from each contubernium would often be on patrol or leave outside the settlement. The theory presented by Goldsworthy reveals that soldiers were busy and often on duty but does not outweigh the literary sources and extensive number of inscriptions revealing that strong ties developed between contubernales.
The bond developed between soldiers may have striking resemblance to modern soldiers but, unlike most modern militaries relationships with women were regulated by the state. After Augustus instituted permanent military settlements and lengthened the period of service soldiers began to form alliances with women in the vici that formed near military settlements. With large numbers of men permanently placed in a region far from Rome Augustus instituted a law that no soldier in active service could legally marry. A recent and extensive look


Chapter Two The Papyri
Chapter Three The Diplomas
Chapter Four The Jurists
Chapter Five The Form and Scope of the Ban
Chapter Seven The Legal Status of the Unions
Heterosexual Relations
BGU 140 Hadrians Letter
Chapter SixCommemoration of Soldiers
Literature on the Military Diplomas
Roman Army Pay Bibliography
Polygamous Relationships
Effects of Rank
Germany Spain Britain and African Auxilia
Soldiers Children in the Epitaphs

Chapter Nine Homosexual Relationships
Chapter Ten Children
Chapter Twelve Cultural Context
General Conclusion
Papyrus Cattaoui
Correction for AgeRounding
Index of Sources
Index of Topics
Papyrological Concordance

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About the author (2001)

Sara Elise Phang, Ph.D. (2000) in Roman History, Columbia University holds a Mellon fellowship in Classics at the University of Southern California. Her first book is "The Marriage of Roman Soldiers" and she is currently working on a study of Roman military discipline.

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