Roman Military Service Essay

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prestige associated with service declined: “In the first century (BC) proof of honorable service as a common soldier was unimportant for the elite” (McCall, 2568). The cavalry, which had once been the bastion of the wealthiest of young Romans, was then opened to the lower classes of citizens, and then to allies, thus losing some of its special status. While there had been a mandatory term of military service before one was eligible for politics, the ten years required of cavalry service was preferable to the longer infantry requirement, and cavalry gave greater chance for glory. When Rome removed the requirement, many young men with political aspirations chose a cursory two years in the service, often as an aide de camp, instead of pursuing a true military career.…show more content…
This war required activation of vast numbers of soldiers, mostly drawn from the same pool of candidates. Many of the former Italian allies, were now engaged in war: "Besides the soldiers which were kept for guards at each town, they had forces in common amounting to about 100,000 foot and horse" (Appian, 1.39). Of the Romans, meanwhile, "the total number who served the Roman state during the war perhaps numbered 175,000" (McCall, 2183). Of these, "more than 100,000 young men had perished in this war" (Appian, 1.103). This placed a great strain on the ability of Roman citizens to fill the required cavalry ranks. Rome required Legionaries to be Roman citizens, so vast numbers of citizens being diverted into the cavalry would leave fewer available to be legionaries. “Foreign nations could provide auxiliary infantry and cavalry, but they could not supply legionaries, the backbone of the Roman army” (McCall, 2194). If manpower was short, and the Romans only allowed foreigners in the cavalry, it made sense to fill all possible cavalry spots with foreign
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