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The levying of soldiers for military service among the Romans. In the republican age all the citizens who were liable to service assembled in the Capitol on the day previously notified by the Consuls in their edictum, or proclamation. The twenty-four tribuni militum were first divided among the four legions to be levied. Then one of the tribes was chosen by lot, and the presence of the citizens ascertained by calling the names according to the lists of the several tribes. The calling was always opened with names of good omen (see OMEN). If a man did not appear, he would be punished according to circumstances, by a fine, confiscation of property, corporal punishment, even by being sold into slavery. Four men of equal age and bodily capacity were ordered to come forward, and distributed among the four legions, then another four, and so on, that each legion got men of equal quality. As the proceeding was the same with the other tribes, each legion had a quarter of the levy for each tribe. No one man was excused (vacatio) from service unless he was over 46 years of age, or bad served the number of campaigns prescribed by law, twenty in the infantry, ten in the cavalry, or held a city office or priesthood, or had a temporary or perpetual dispensation granted on account of special business of state. In ancient times the levy of the cavalry followed that of the infantry, in later times it preceded it. On the oath taken after the levy see SACRAMENTUM. About the year 100 B.C. Marius procured the admission of the capite censi, or classes without property, to military service (see PROLETARII). After this the legions were chiefly made up out of this class by enlistment; and though the liability to common military service still existed for all citizens, the wealthy citizens strove to relieve themselves of it, the more so, as after Marius the time of service was extended from twenty campaigns to twenty years. In 89 B.C. the Roman citizenship was extended to all the inhabitants of Italy, and all, therefore, became liable to service. The levies were in consequence not held exclusively in Rome, but in all Italy, by conquisitores. These functionaries, though they continued to use the official lists of qualified persons, assumed more and more the character of recruiting officers. They were ready to grant the vacatio, or exemption, for money or favour, and anxious to get hold of volunteers by holding out promises. The legal liability to military service continued to exist in imperial times, but after the time of Augustus it was only enforced in regard to the garrison at Rome, and on occasions of special necessity. The army had become a standing one, and even outside of Italy, except when a special levy of now legions was made, the vacancies caused by the departure of the soldiers who had served their time were filled up by volunteers. The levy was carried out by imperial commissioners (dilectatores), whose business it was to test the qualifications of the recruits. These were, Roman citizenship-for only citizens were allowed to serve, whether in the legions, or in the guard and other garrison cohorts of Rome (Cohortes Urbanae)-physical capacity, and a certain height, the average of which was 5 feet 10 inches under the empire. For the republican age we have no information on this point.
Type: Standard
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