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lothia

Travel in the Later Roman Empire

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Ave Civitas,

 

You guys are great.

 

I have another question about travel in the Later Roman Empire.

 

I understand that there were times when Rome could not provide security to all of the land it "owned".

 

1. I would assume then that travel from one city to the next could be dicey.

2. I assume this did not preclude travel, but traveling in groups would be saver.

3. I imagine that life in the lesser villages was more hazardous than life in a walled city.

4. I would also imagine that merchants, loaded down with valuables would not want to travel from one city to the next without accompaniment (other merchants, armed guards, hired guards)

 

My question is:

Are my assumptions correct?

Can someone point me in the direction of a good reference to this?

 

Thanks again,

 

tom

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I'd would say that most of your assumptions are pretty much correct apart from maybe No 3, I'd say that the life in the lesser villages would probably have been safer than life in the big city, in the smaller villages the inhabitants were all probably accuainted with each other therefore the chances of them coming to harm from the fellow dwellers would have been much slimmer than those who lived in the major settlements, every time they set foot out of their homes there would be the threat of danger, especially for the more wealthier citizens, the big cities were full of low life's, pick pockets and cut-throat types who wouldn't think twice about harming someone for a couple of sesterii.

 

THIS book by our very own Maty would be a good place to start for information about traveling in Ancient Rome.

 

Hope it helps.

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I can think of two late Roman travel accounts that might give you information that you're looking for:

1. "De Reditu" or "A Voyage Home (to Gaul) by Rutilius Namatianus

 

Five years after the sack of Rome, Rutilius decides to visit his properties in Gaul to see what damage has been inflicted by the Vandals. He relies heavily on sea travel because the roads are full of barbarians.

See here:

http://en.wikipedia....dius_Namatianus

 

2. The travelogue of Egeria

Egeria was a Gallaeci or Gallic woman who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land about 381

Edited by Ludovicus

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I understand that there were times when Rome could not provide security to all of the land it "owned".

 

1. I would assume then that travel from one city to the next could be dicey.

The risks were little different from the early empire, unless you travelled into an area where there was hostilities.

2. I assume this did not preclude travel, but traveling in groups would be saver.

Travelling in groups was indeed a safer proposition. There was always a risk of enslavement by rural traffickers, banditry, con-men, and so forth.

3. I imagine that life in the lesser villages was more hazardous than life in a walled city.

That would depend on the settlement and generally the hazards of urban life exceeded those of rural areas. There's an anonymity about urban life that concealed criminal activity and violence in the way that was impossible in villages.

4. I would also imagine that merchants, loaded down with valuables would not want to travel from one city to the next without accompaniment (other merchants, armed guards, hired guards)

Possibly, but since we know merchants travelled frequently with valuable goods, this clearly was a necessary evil. Bear in mind that secure compartments on wagons and boats were not unknown, and that merchants carried a variety of goods at the same time. It was unusual (and something to draw attention to yourself) by carriage of single item goods.

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If you have access to a decent classics library then, although apparently mainly developing Religious related themes, some of the books listed under the first section 'Realities of Travel in the Ancient Mediterranean' at this site may be of use to your research.

 

Although I haven't read it if it is anything like the other 'sourcebooks' I ahev come acroos then Meijer, Fik, and Onno van Nijf, eds. (1992) Trade, Transport and Society in the Ancient World: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge will list numerous relevant passages from ancient sources.

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