Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Ask an Expert

Roman Soldier

Post a reply
User avatar
51 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 5513
Reviews: 51
Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:17 pm
Cole says...



I’m in need of some answers of what a life of a Roman soldier would be like during the First Century, particularly in Jerusalem under the commission of Pontius Pilate.

--What would the soldier’s living conditions be like? I know he would live within Herod's Palace with the governor, but what would his life be like?

--What luxuries would he be allowed to partake in? Would he live like a slave or more truly like an honored warrior?

--What would his attire and garments be like? Would he always be wearing armor, helmets, and cloaks, even when he was off duty? And would his clothing be more based off the style of the Roman society, or would it be similar to the Jew’s tunics?

--What would some of his duties be? What would be some of the orders he’d need to carry out for the governor? What would serving a Roman governor be like and what would be the reward for completing a task?

--What religion would he be? Would he believe in classical Roman paganism or something else?

--What would be the price of betraying the Roman government? Would it be exile, execution, or does it just depend on the circumstances?

Sorry if this is a lot. Answer what you can please. I would be grateful for anything you could give me. : )
Last edited by Cole on Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My heart holds all secrets; my heart tells no lies.

~Hosea 6:3~
ונדעה נרדפה לדעת את יהוה כשחר נכון מצאו ויבוא כגשם לנו כמלקוש יורה ארץ׃




User avatar
103 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 3879
Reviews: 103
Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:56 pm
Dynamo says...



I don't know very much about Roman soldiers, but I do know an interesting piece of information that you may be able to implement. One of the methods used to keep Roman soldiers in line was to kill one soldier for every ten to punish mutinous and cowardly men. This is where the word decimation originated, which literally means "removal of a tenth." Most people just think decimation is another variable for destroy, and often use it in the wrong context.

Here's an article on it if you want to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimation_(Roman_army)
Chicken <-- Egg <-- Rocket Powered Fist
Take that, science!




User avatar
64 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 1922
Reviews: 64
Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:13 pm
shadowraiki says...



--What would the soldier’s living conditions be like? I know he would live within the ...Antonia Fortress with the governor, but what would his life be like?

Soldiers would sleep in barracks located in camps. Think of it like a barn, except with bunks and house soldiers rather than animals. The conditions aren't the nicest and can range from bad to terrible. There were game/common rooms though. Make shift tents/open fields would be used when on the move. I'm not sure about the Antonia Fortress however.

--What luxuries would he be allowed to partake in? Would he live like a slave or more truly like an honored warrior?

The past time of soldiers would be gambling and sports, occasionally having sex with prostitutes when they could. Remember that soldiesr are just ordinary people and want to do what ordinary people do. Since the Roman empire had so many soldiers, it was common to meet them every where, even on the frontiers. Games would include dice games mostly, primitive board games, and maybe card games, not sure about that one though. Sports included wrestling, racing, javelin/discus throwing, etc.

--What would his attire and garments be like? Would he always be wearing armor, helmets, and cloaks, even when he was off duty? And would his clothing be more based off the style of the Roman society, or would it be similar to the Jew’s tunics?

Soldiers would always carry their weapon with them. That is how someone would be able to distinguish a soldier from an ordinary person. Only on duty would they wear their armor (however you should also know that serving in the armor was considered a privilage and people had to buy their own armor so some might not even have this). If relaxing and in public, they didn't need to wear their armor. They would wear something comfortable such as a tunic that reached their knees/slightly above.

--What would some of his duties be? What would be some of the orders he’d need to carry out for the governor? What would serving a Roman governor be like and what would be the reward for completing a task?

Generally soldiers had three jobs. 1, defend the empire and conquer others (typical soldier duties). 2, settle the public population (think riot police, but with swords). 3, build and maintain public features such as bridges and roads (you can't always fight. To keep soldiers busy, they would be sent on tasks such as this). There is no reward, soldiers are paid. Governers don't usually control an army. They may have a private one, but not the empire's. The armies would have a general, who could decide on what to do.

--What religion would he be? Would he believe in classical Roman paganism or something else?

Depending on time period. The traditional Roman religion would be playing it safe, though if it's in the late Roman Empire, Christianity could be one.

--What would be the price of betraying the Roman government? Would it be exile, execution, or does it just depend on the circumstances?

Execution. Straight out. Roman's loved their death. Crucification was a favorite, though simply beheading someone wasn't uncommon either. Another possiblity was being turned into a slave and being forced to fight in the Arena. Generally, death was prescribed for just about every crime in ancient Rome.

If words are just letters put together, why do we decide on what they mean?

I step away from the grammar to review the story.

I don't do poetry.




User avatar
83 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 1822
Reviews: 83
Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:16 pm
SubjectBlue says...



well the soldier's living condition would be average, from one side, all his needs will be taken care of, he'll be fed, clothed and roofed(I think that's the term) by the roman empire, but it isn't very fancy though.

He wouldn't be exactly like a slave, the soldiers of the roman army were mostly free men, serving as part of citizenship or as career, but then again, he would be subject to the command of nobles and officers.

usually, when off duty, the soldier would probably wear something between the Jewish tunic (which is environmentally fitted) and the roman tunic, which is his own society's.

There is no reward for completing a task, it's his job, he gets salary, and privileges, and keeps his mouth shut.
his jobs would be, since at this period there weren't any mutiny's (which is very rare in our history, we Jews just can't ever sit quietly) he probably would do more of a police job- security, traffic, handling criminals and riots and so on...

Paganism, undoubtedly paganism.

If he betrays the empire, he'll be getting the "Jesus treatment"
+
if you get what I'm saying


hope I helped.
'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' -Stephen G. Tallentyre

"Great minds think alike- idiots are unpredictable"

For Free!
topic86079.html




User avatar
51 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 5513
Reviews: 51
Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:04 pm
Cole says...



Wow, this is great information! Keep it coming.

So, how often would a soldier be off duty? And would he be able to do what he wanted while he was off duty?

Also, would the soldiers be allowed to attend parties and celebrations, as was the way of Rome?

But, about betraying the Empire, I've heard several things.

Flogging was common, and usually very few men in history actually ever survived Roman floggings because the whippings and beatings would actually lay bare his bowels, skeleton, and interior organs if the punishment was severe enough, as was the case with Christ.
Crucifixion was saved for prisoners and people who the Roman Empire wanted to make an example out of, so I doubt many soldiers were killed by this method.
For a Roman citizen, beheadings were the most common act of execution, from what I've read. Do you think that would apply to soldiers, too, since they are mostly citizens of Rome?

Also, what would be some of the idols the Romans worshiped around this time period? Would it be traditional Jupiter and Venus, or would they be minor idols? Also, what time period was it when Rome raised statues of their idols in Jerusalem?
My heart holds all secrets; my heart tells no lies.

~Hosea 6:3~
ונדעה נרדפה לדעת את יהוה כשחר נכון מצאו ויבוא כגשם לנו כמלקוש יורה ארץ׃




User avatar
83 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 1822
Reviews: 83
Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:19 pm
View Likes
SubjectBlue says...



Off duty, I guess it will be about shifts and stuff, I'm not sure though.

No, parties were thrown by the rich, for the rich.

The roman religion was practically an open party, there were the main Jupiter and co gods, but they added the gods of every culture they conquered. (except Jewish god which was a single so they couldn't)

Does that helps?
'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' -Stephen G. Tallentyre

"Great minds think alike- idiots are unpredictable"

For Free!
topic86079.html




User avatar
64 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 1922
Reviews: 64
Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:54 pm
shadowraiki says...



I'll just say again that you can be killed for just about anything in the Roman Empire. I also suggest you look into Roman means of torture. They had lots of that too. I think you might be interested in how they killed Vestal Virgins.

So, how often would a soldier be off duty? And would he be able to do what he wanted while he was off duty?
This one honestly depends. Is it a time of war? If so, he would probably get no time off. Generally, soldiers are free to do what ever they want as long as it's nothing something stupid...
Also, would the soldiers be allowed to attend parties and celebrations, as was the way of Rome
Soldiers can attend parties, just depends what social status is allowed into that party. Remember that the army is made of all types of people, including richer ones. Partying was something Roman's were quite fond of actually because it usually meant a lot of food and alcohol. Richer romans actually use to eat a meal, throw it up, and then have a second meal.
If words are just letters put together, why do we decide on what they mean?

I step away from the grammar to review the story.

I don't do poetry.




User avatar
5 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 592
Reviews: 5
Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:02 pm
View Likes
Lothbrok says...



If your character is a serious professional soldier eg. a Centurion or someone on the line to be one in the furture, the kind of man who'd probably join the Evocati then he might be a Mithraic, a soldiers religion which was reserved for good fighters. They would meet up for initiations and rituals. They were rather fond of killing and eating bulls.
If not i'd expect your average Legionary to give the odd prayer to the gods, usually giving a sacrifice if they wanted a favour. The bigger the favour the bigger the sacrifice. I'd expect Mars would be the one getting prayed to the most. Triton and Neptune as well if they're part of the navy or taking a ship to get anywhere.
If at first you don't succeed then destroy any evidence that you ever tried




User avatar
15 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 1092
Reviews: 15
Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:49 pm
HereBeMonsters says...



Have a look at this site regarding religion with the military: http://www.redrampant.com/2009/06/roman-military-relgion.html
Hope it helps.




User avatar
447 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 2100
Reviews: 447
Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:29 pm
View Likes
Duskglimmer says...



Hello,

I just graduated with a degree in Classical Studies (all things Ancient Greek and Roman), so I couldn't resist weighing in here.

A soldier's living conditions for the most part were just like the average Roman citizens: they were provided food and shelter from their commanders, but had to supply their own clothes, armor and personal needs. They were housed in barracks, which were square, wooden structures on stilts to keep rats and other pests out of their living quarters. They built their own barracks, so for the most part, their quarters were a reflection of thier own attitudes: they put in the work, the quarters were good. They slacked and the living conditions suffered.

Of course, all that is only true if they are NOT on campaign at the time. On campaign, they would likely have been in areas that were not friendly toward them. They probably still had some sort of camp with barracks, but it may not have been very permanent, and they would have been confined within whatever protective walls they had, or else the locals might get a little stabby, if you know what I mean. Confined men = stink and grouchies (which are of course technical terms :) ). If they were winning their battles, the camp probably was looking pretty good. If they were losing, living conditions would get very bad very fast: men don't have a lot of patience for cleaning after they've spent all day in the "grind" of battle.

A soldier wouldn't have many prohibitions on luxuries. Obviously, there are things that are not as practical to bring to a battlefield (gold wine cups, racing horses, etc.), but soldiers were far from slaves. He would have followed his commander's orders, but depending on his rank and how far he is from Rome, those orders might not come very often.

Soldiers would be off-duty a lot of the time, unless in active combat zones. Then they would hardly ever be off-duty. If off duty, they would occasionally be allowed to leave the camp, but most of the time would have to call friends to them. The areas under the barracks (remember, they are raised on stilts), are great places to throw a little get-together. :)

Soldiers might be invited to a private party, if their family is well connected, or they've distinguished themselves in battle in some grand way. Public fesitvals and sacrifices (which were largely neighborhood barbeques... good meat for the taking) were fair game to everyone and certainly soldiers would have partaken.

He would only wear armor on the battlefield, or on ceremonial parades (look up Roman Triumphs, if you're looking for a rocking victory party). His clothes would likely have been a simple tunic (almost to the knee), possibly some rough pants or a toga (togas were worn by Roman citizens. NO one else).

His religion would have been Roman paganism. If you choose a time period later in history, you could say he was a Christian also, but those are really your only two choices. Roman religious practices were very different than what we consider religion today. It was not a seperate piece of his life, but it was integrated into everything that he did. He would recognize the reality of dieties, but would not think of them as having a personal relationship to him in anyway. If he was lucky, he wasn't on their radar, and that was the way he liked it. When bad things happened, he would likely make a sacrifice right quick to get back on the gods' good side, and what things were good, he would remember to make the proper sacrifices to thank them and make sure that he was STILL on their good side. It was more about making sure that you didn't get on the gods' nerves than about worshipping them in any particular manner. The goddess Victory was probably the one that he would pay the most attention to/strive to please. Mars had a bad rep, and was largely responsible for all the grimy parts of war (the blood, guts and rotting corpses left behind by warring armies). Most soldiers would only pay attention to him if they were seeing a lot of blood and guts on their side and wanted it to stop.

If your soldier is a Roman citizen, he would NEVER be crucified. Crucifiction was reserved for criminals and only criminals that were not true Romans. There were certain things that a Roman citizen had by right - such as a trial before an authority figure before any punishment is doled out. After that trial, floggings were common punishments and in severe cases death. Beheading was the least shameful way to die, so that was what was used on citizens. If you were a soldier, but not a citizen, you could be killed in any number of ways.

Please note that our idea of severe, and their version of severe are different things. For instance, a soldier set to guard a prisoner, would have been killed had that prisoner escaped. Failing in the line of duty is severe. Betraying the empire is severe, although, I'm curious about what specific circumstance you're talking about.
The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief. ~William Shakespeare, Othello
Boo. SPEW is watching.




User avatar
49 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 1292
Reviews: 49
Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:44 pm
roostangarar says...



Hey, I'd like to clear some things up if you don't mind.

Roman's could worship any God they wanted. Ever. You say that you're setting it in Jerusalem? You'd probably get all the classic Roman Gods (Jupiter, Mars, Fortuna (her especially), maybe Vulcan) and any and all Gods you'd find in the Middle East. The Roman's had a habit of absorbing other God's into their culture, probably so they had more of an excuse to party.

However, Christianity didn't really start to grow upon the Roman Empire until way after Christ's death, and even that's debated heatedly. It's generally agreed that it happened sometime between AD 26-36, so you could integrate that into your story if you want, give your poetic license a bit of a work!

Another thing. A Legionary's equipment was pretty uniform throughout the entire empire, with trousers being seen as foreign and nasty. You'd only find them in very cold climates, and even that was rare. A Roman soldier would have to pay for his own equipment, but it worked like this: A Roman citizen signs up. He is paid (At a best guess) 75 denarii a month. All his equipment is provided for him, the cost of which is deducted from his pay. So in effect, a Roman soldier doesn't make any money for about a year. However, if he survives his 25 years then he can sell his equipment back to the state (Or anyone who'll pay for it).

On the topic of parties. When previous people have mentioned soldiers going to parties, they are referring to the higher classes eg. Tribunes, Legates etc. The common footsoldiers would have to resort to finding the nearest tavern and getting pissed. And they would only be allowed this if they had no other duties.

If you need to know anything else, I suggest reading Simon Scarrow's Eagle books. Not only are they excellent books, but two of them are set in Syria, so you'll get some info from there. Also, check out this site:
http://www.roman-empire.net/index.html

I too am writing some Roman stories, so I know how frustrating it can be to make it as historically accurate as possible!!
I hae but ane gallant son, and if he were to follow me in my footsteps, how proud I shall be.

Time isn't a straight line. It's a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff




User avatar
5 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 592
Reviews: 5
Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:11 am
Lothbrok says...



Soldiers might occasionally be allowed into a party if they'd done some huge feat of bravery or courage. Then they might be brought in as a sort of spectacle. They'd probably only be talked to a couple times, have no clue about the etiquette and so might end up just standing in the corner drinking until they're given permission to leave.

Their clothes worn while off-duty would depend on how much they cared about their comfort. People who'd been there for a while might adapt their off-duty clothing to something more local so they weren't so hot and stuffy.
If at first you don't succeed then destroy any evidence that you ever tried







cron