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Denia

I don't want to serve in the army

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Usually the position of a tribune was reserved for Roman of equestrian rank, the most that a common soldier could rise to is a Centurian rank.

 

Military service wasn't mandatory at the time, however you would have to serve in the military in you desire a pubkic life.

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You could always chop their thumbs off so the were unable to hold a gladius! Making them pretty useless as soldiers. :)

 

Roman fathers had been known to do this to stop their son's having to serve in the legions.

 

Might be a little bit to drastic for your story though :D

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I don't know about A.D. 55-60, but in later times, they army actually started accepting thumbless men. They were on to the "chopping the thumbs off" trick, and 1) were desperate for soldiers and 2) wanted to make a point that this would NOT work, so you might as well keep your thumbs attached.

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I don't know about A.D. 55-60, but in later times, they army actually started accepting thumbless men. They were on to the "chopping the thumbs off" trick, and 1) were desperate for soldiers and 2) wanted to make a point that this would NOT work, so you might as well keep your thumbs attached.

 

What did they do on the battlefield then?????......... Prod the enemy to death!!! :):D

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What did they do on the battlefield then?????......... Prod the enemy to death!!! :lol::P

 

They taunted the enemy to death, of course: "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"

 

Oh, wait... Those were the Knights of Camelot. Sorry.

 

-- Nephele

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You could always chop their thumbs off so the were unable to hold a gladius! Making them pretty useless as soldiers. :lol:

 

Hmmm :P I'd rather have them serve in the army than chop their thumbs off. Anyway, Arrius wants to be a legionary soldier. He'd have a bit of a problem without thumbs, wouldn't he.

And Lucius wouldn't dare to use such a drastic measure.

 

But as military service wasn't mandatory (is that the same as obligatory or did I use the wrong word?) the problem is solved!

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There was no social or legal requirement for any young aristocrat to serve as a tribunus militum in this time period. Most would find it strange for a man with an opportunity to serve as a tribune to refuse the position in order to join the rank and file though. You would definitely have to show that he is a young man of intense conviction, but perhaps also a bit foolish, in order to give up such an opportunity. In order to achieve such recognition, a family would have to be quite prominent. (6 tribunes in each legion with about 30 legions.. depending on exact date = only 180 tribunes). As an alternative, your character might accept a direct commission as a centurion rather than a tribune. Clearly the opportunities for a centurion to face direct combat was far greater than that of a senior officer.

 

By the by, a tribune did have administrative functions to serve but the definition of an officers role can be somewhat cloudy based on terminology (ie tribuni militii, tribunus laticlavius, tribuni angusticlavii, legatus, etc.). There is no reason to believe that they were not also viable combat officers. Perhaps some were given more responsibility and authority by the legatus than others... based on individual aptitude.

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Military sservice gave a a roman of good family credibility for his future political career. Now granted that not every young roman male was so competitive - many were - and we know there were men who did try their best to avoid military service. Although the romans generally were very macho and aggressive, there must have been some for whom the risk of real harm was too much. Notice however the numbers of young men of good families who signed up as gladiators - Augustus had to pass a law to restrict this behaviour. These men were keen to earn money or fame (both if possible) and weren't afraid to go toe to toe for real in order to achieve it, or at least they weren't afraid until the actual event. The reason I say this is to underline the combativeness of roman character.

 

So Denia, your young man has the following options....

 

1 - Flat refusal

Wow, this is going to make him popular.... Although there may be some who have some sympathy for his decision, perhaps even admire his courage to say no, most won't.

 

2 - Hide

Potential recruits were known to make themselves scarce, and one dodge was to hide in a rural slave barracks pretending to be an inmate. Tiberius was tasked by Augustus to uncover the extent of this practice and reform the barracks.

 

3 - Bribe

Perhaps a few sestercii might change your mind Sir? Or perhaps a small service of benefit to you and your missus? I notice your clothes aren't new. Lets do something about that, and perhaps you could turn a blind eye....

 

4 - Servitude

Desperate? Then really go the whole hog and sell yoursef into slavery. As mentioned above, adventurous romans might volunteer for the arena, whilst the more fearful would prefer something more mundane. It was rare but not unknown for romans to sell themselves to a slave trader, usually in order to secure a prestigious post as a servant and thus get around social obstacles. The disadvantages of this route are obvious, and would have been obvious to young romans.

 

5 - Stay Away

Self imposed exile might be an answer and one to carry on life as usual without the hasle of recruitment. So, get aboard the first galley to the orient, and make your way to Syria perhaps, where trade is booming. or perhaps voyage far into the distance... Exploration is unusual for romans who were very inwardly focused as a culture despite their penchant for military conquest, but there were romans who did venture far.

 

6 - Rebel

This would be going too far for many romans, but its certainly adventurous and in at least one case a rebellion occured because someone did not want to fight.

 

7 - Thumb Removal

As mentioned above, a common practice was to cut off a thumb and thus render yourself useless as a soldier. Augustus was concerned at this sort of thing, but it became a real issue in the late empire when an emperor stated that from this moment forward, two thumbless soldiers are worth one ordinary soldier and no longer have an excuse to serve.

 

8 - READ THIS IF ALL ELSE FAILS!

Disaster has struck. Military service is all but unavoidable. What option has a man left but to fall on his sword? This sort of thing was also rare, but did happen. With regard to combat, there are two examples from gladiatorial combat. In one instance, a man thrust his head into a wheel of a cart in order to break his neck whilst on the way to an event, on the other hand there was the case of a man who chose to suffocate himself in the latrine with a sponge-stick rather than fight. Granted these were slaves (and not of good family either) but there was also the case of a line of saxons who throttled each other in a secret pact to avoid fighting in the arena.

 

PS - I just thought of another...

 

9 - Ruse

Obviously falling on a sword is abit self-defeating, so perhaps a ruse might be in order? Pretend to be unfit for for service.

Edited by caldrail

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OK, Caldrail, I must say that I have to think a little longer to find out which of your options my young men can use.

By the way, I recently found out that they are both plebeian. I thought they were patricians, but they are not. Does that change their situation?

 

Anyway, Arius is a little foolish, VERY stubborn, and he dislikes everything his father likes. When his father tries to move him into a position he doesn't want (something in politics, i'm not sure yet), Arius runs away from home and becomes a legionary. Is this a credible story?

 

Don't know what Lucius is going to do yet. I think bribe is the right option for him. I mean, trade was profitable, so he's got the money to do it... What about his age? he's 16-18 years old in my story. Maybe he's going to the army after the end of my story...

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Campbell suggests that Augustus limited the incidence of conscription in Italy although he wasn

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OK, Caldrail, I must say that I have to think a little longer to find out which of your options my young men can use.

By the way, I recently found out that they are both plebeian. I thought they were patricians, but they are not. Does that change their situation?

In some circumstances the family origin will decide whether these men are acceptable in whichever social situation they find themselves, but in real terms, money talks and and the poor man walks, and since wealth bought influence and status in roman circles, in most circumstances they can carry on in pretty much the same way.

 

Anyway, Arius is a little foolish, VERY stubborn, and he dislikes everything his father likes. When his father tries to move him into a position he doesn't want (something in politics, i'm not sure yet), Arius runs away from home and becomes a legionary. Is this a credible story?

Why not? People still do that even today. Arius is rebellious, fed up with paternal control (and lets face it, in roman culture the elder male is in control) and wants to make his own way in the world, yet in your story he is prepared to lower himself in status and possibly lose an inheritance simply to do his own thing and stick a finger in his fathers face. Nothing wrong in this story at all. He would be a rariety of course, and his fellow legionaries would cotton on to his superior breeding very quickly and poor Arius may find himself the butt of some very poor behaviour from his legionary brethren until he earns respect and friends.

 

Don't know what Lucius is going to do yet. I think bribe is the right option for him. I mean, trade was profitable, so he's got the money to do it... What about his age? he's 16-18 years old in my story. Maybe he's going to the army after the end of my story...

By the age of 15 young Lucius is considered old enough to make his own decisions and to be of marriageable age. At 16-18, he's a young businessman according to your story. The fact he gets his fingers dirty with trade and finance lowers his social level - men of good families didn't involve themselves in such grubby details (at least not publicly anyway, and there were plenty of knowledeable slaves to do the nitty gritty stuff anyway)

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There was no social or legal requirement for any young aristocrat to serve as a tribunus militum in this time period. Most would find it strange for a man with an opportunity to serve as a tribune to refuse the position in order to join the rank and file though. You would definitely have to show that he is a young man of intense conviction, but perhaps also a bit foolish, in order to give up such an opportunity. In order to achieve such recognition, a family would have to be quite prominent. (6 tribunes in each legion with about 30 legions.. depending on exact date = only 180 tribunes). As an alternative, your character might accept a direct commission as a centurion rather than a tribune. Clearly the opportunities for a centurion to face direct combat was far greater than that of a senior officer.

 

By the by, a tribune did have administrative functions to serve but the definition of an officers role can be somewhat cloudy based on terminology (ie tribuni militii, tribunus laticlavius, tribuni angusticlavii, legatus, etc.). There is no reason to believe that they were not also viable combat officers. Perhaps some were given more responsibility and authority by the legatus than others... based on individual aptitude.

 

 

Tribuni Cohortium.

Edited by Gaius Paulinus Maximus

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Another option worth researching is for your young man to do a bout or two in the arena. I haven't checked this recently, but emperors were quite keen to prevent the upper classes debasing themselves in this way. It may be that having gone in with the intention of fighting anonymously (lots of gladiator helmets gave this option) your hero gets rumbled and an officer career is closed to him thereafter. Perhaps some of the others who know this area better than I could shoot a few holes in the idea, but otherwise it might have plot possibilities.

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He would be a rariety of course, and his fellow legionaries would cotton on to his superior breeding very quickly and poor Arius may find himself the butt of some very poor behaviour from his legionary brethren until he earns respect and friends.

That's excactly what I'm writing about. His fellow legionaries find out who Arius' father is and make his life a nightmare.

 

By the age of 15 young Lucius is considered old enough to make his own decisions and to be of marriageable age. At 16-18, he's a young businessman according to your story. The fact he gets his fingers dirty with trade and finance lowers his social level - men of good families didn't involve themselves in such grubby details (at least not publicly anyway, and there were plenty of knowledeable slaves to do the nitty gritty stuff anyway)

 

Weren't there any businessman from an higher social level, then? Thought I read about that, but I don't remember where. In my story Lucius knows the example of a man who became very rich because of trade and then he wants to give it a try himself. Lucius' father doesn't like it, but as you say, Lucius is old enough to make his own decisions. (By the way: isn't his father the ruler of the whole family until he dies? Can Lucius really make his own decisions?)

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