The Lives of Soldiers and Sailors
Sources: Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings VII.vi.1; Livy 42.34; Select Papyri I (1932) #111, 112 (II. A.D.).
Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings VII.vi.1
For during the Second Punic War [218-201 BCE] the Roman youth
of military age having been drained by several unfavorable battles, the Senate,
on the motion of the consul Tiberius Gracchus (consul in 215 and 213), decreed
that slaves should be bought up out of public moneys for use in repulsing the
enemy. After a plebiscite [(a vote of the Consilium Plebis] was passed on this
matter by the people through the intervention of the Tribunes of the Plebs, a
commission of three men was chosen to purchase 24,000 slaves, and having
administered an oath to them that they would give zealous and courageous
service and that they would bear arms as long as the Carthaginians were in
Italy, they sent them to the camp. From Apulia and the Paediculi were also
bought 270 slaves for replacements in the cavalry... The City, which up to this
time had disdained to have as soldiers even free men without property added to
its army as almost its chief support persons taken from slave lodgings and
slaves gathered from shepherd huts.'
Citizens of Rome. I am Spurius Ligustinus, of the Tribe
Crustumina, and I come of Sabine stock. My father left me half an acre of land
and the little hut in which I was born and brought up. I am still living there
today [171 BCE]. As soon as I came of age, my father gave me his brother's
daughter to wife, who brought nothing with her save her free birth and her
chastity, together with a fertility which would be enough even for a wealthy
home. We have six sons, and two daughters (both already married). Four of my
sons have taken the toga of manhood; two are still under age. I joined the army
in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Aurelius (Cotta) [200 BCE],
and I served two years in the ranks in the army which was taken across to
Macedonia, in the campaign against King Philip [V, of Macedonia who died in
179]. In the third year Titus Quinctius Flamininus promoted me, for my bravery,
to be centurion of the 10th maniple of hastati.
After the defeat of King Philip and the Macedonians, when we
had been brought back to Italy and demobilized, I immediately left for Spain as
a volunteer with the consul Marcus Porcius [CATO, consul in 195 BCE]. Of all
the living generals, none has been a keener observer and judge of bravery than
he, as is well known to those who through long military service have had
experience of him and other commanders. This general judged me worthy to be
appointed centurion of the 1st century of hastati. I enlisted for the third
time, again as a volunteer, in the army sent against the Aetolians and King
Antiochus. Manius Acilius [Glabrio, consul of 191] appointed me centurion of
the first century of the principes. When King Antiochus had been driven out
[Battle of Thermopylae] and the Aetolians had been crushed, we were brought
back to Italy. And twice after that I took part in campaigns in which the
legions served for a year. Thereafter I saw two campaigns in Spain, one with
Quintus Fulvius Flaccus as Praetor [182, continued in office in 181 and 180],
the other with Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus [father of the Gracchus brothers]
in command .
I was brought back home by Flaccus with the others whom he
brought back with him from the province for his Triumph, on account of their
bravery. And I returned to Spain because I was asked to do so by Tiberius
Gracchus. Four times in the course of a few years I held the rank of Chief
Centurion. Thirty four times I was rewarded for bravery by the generals. I have
been given six civic crowns. I have completed 22 years of service in the army,
and I am now over 50 years old. But even if I had not completed my service, and
if my age did not give me exemption, it would still be right for me to be
descharged, Publius Licinius, since I could give your four soldiers as my
substitutes...' There was an official vote of thanks, and the Military
Tribunes, on account of his bravery appointed him First Centurion of the First
Legion. The other centurions withdrew their appeal and obediently responded to
the call for conscription.
Letter of a Recruit: Apollinarius
Apollinarius to Taesis, his mother and lady, many greetings!
Before all I pray for your health. I myself am well, and make
supplication for you before the gods of this place. I wish you to know, mother,
that I arrived in Rome in good health on the 20th of the month Pachon, and was
posted to Misenum, though I have not let learned the name of my company (kenturian); for I had not gone to Misenum at the time of
writing this letter. I beg you then, mother, look after yourself and do not
worry about me; for I have come to a fine place. Please write me a letter about
your welfare and that of my brothers and of all your folk. And whenever I find
a messenger I will write to you; never will I be slow to write. Many
salutations to my brothers and Apollinarius and his children, and Karalas and
his children. I salute Ptolemaeus and Ptolemais and her children and Heraclous
and her children. I salute all who love you, each by name. I pray for your
[Address:] Deliver at Karanis to Taesis, from her son
Apollinarius of Misenum.
Letter of a Recruit: Apion
Apion to Epimachus, his father and lord, very many greetings.
Before all else I pray for your health and that you may always
be well and prosperous, together with my sister and her daughter and my
brother. I thank the Lord Serapis that when I was in danger at sea he
straightway saved me. On arriving at Misenum, I received from Caesar three gold
pieces for traveling expenses. And it is well with me.
Now I ask you, my lord and father, write me a letter, telling
me first of your welfare, secondly of my brother's and sister's, and enabling
me thirdly to make obeisance before your handwriting, because you educated me
well and I hope thereby to have quick advancement, if the gods so will.
Give many salutations to Capiton and my brother and sister and
Serenilla and my firends. I have sent you by Euctemon a portrait [eikonin]of
myself. My name is Antonius Maximus, my company [kenturi(a)] is the Athenonica.
I pray for your health.
[Postscript:] Serenus, son of Agathodaemon, salutes you, and .
. . , and Turbo son of Gallonius, and . . . .
[Addressed:] To Philadelphia, to Epimachus from Apion his son.
[Additional address:] Deliver at the camp of the first cohort
of the Apameni to Julianus, vice-secretary [antiliblario] this letter from Apion to be forwarded to his
Petition to the Emperor Philip Against Corruption (246 CE)
Most reverend and serene of all emperors, although in your
most felicitous times all other persons enjoy an untroubled and calm existence,
since all wickedness and oppression have ceased, we, alone experiencing a
fortune most alien to these most fortunate times, present this supplication to
We are unreasonably oppressed and we suffer extortion by those
persons whose duty it is to maintain the public welfare. For although we live
remotely and are without military protection, we suffer afflictions alien to
your most felicitous times. Generals and soldiers and lordlings of prominent
offices in the city and your Caesarians, coming to us, traversing the Appian
district, leaving the highway, taking us from our tasks, requisitioning our
plowing oxen, make exactions that are by no means their due. And it happens
thus that we are wronged by extortions. Our possessions are spent on them, and
our fields are stripped and laid waste....