Friday, November 14, 2014

Things Have Truly Not Changed For 2000 Years.

"We have been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance and our civilization.

We were able to verify that all this was true, and because it was true, we did not hesitant to shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and hopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this frame of mind, I am told that in Rome factions and conspiracies are rife, that treachery flourishes, and that many people in their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire temptations of relinquishment and even to vilify our actions.

I cannot believe that all this is true, and yet recent wars have shown how pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could lead.

Make haste to reassure us, I beg you, and tell us that our fellow citizens understand us, support us, and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the Empire.

If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these desert sands in vain, then beware the fury of the Legions."

-Centurion Marcus Flavinius, Second Cohort, Augusta Legion (probably the VIII Legion) to his cousin Tertullus in Rome. No Date Given

It really is amazing how people and organizations truly do not change. This could have been written in the last 13 years and meant pretty much the same. The plight and challenge of the Soldier has never changed from the days of the hoplite, the legions, the bowman facing the French at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the members of Napoleon's Old Guard, right up to the today.


  1. Another interesting viewpoint from a historian. So how did the civilians through the years treat their military? How did their governments fund the military? Was there mutual respect, or not?

  2. These kind of questions actually requires lots of writing to fully answer it. However, the short answer all your questions is this:

    1) Military service was traditionally part of an annual, or by situation needed basis. There were very few standing armies. Rome had the first real professional army.

    2) Armies were typically funded by Kings or their vassal lords for the duration of the war or campaign. The money was raised by taxation, loans, or from their own treasuries. The hope was to be able to gain enough loot and spoils from winning their wars to not only repay those loans, but add to their own wealth. The average subject could expect little to no recompense for their "contribution." Again, Rome was first real change to this. The Roman Army was the first to create a retirement system in which members of the legions would save a portion of their pay for their future retirement after 25 years of service with the legion.

    3) Probably there little to no mutual respect. Military service was considered to be the realm of the poor. Sons of noble families could seek fame and fortune as officers in the military of their nation. But rank, at least with officers, was very rarely earned by experience, or valor. It was purchased. Enough said there.

    I really like using the Roman Army for an analog for today. Its structure, form, pay and rank system, and reach is the closest example for the army today. Plus, due to the excellent record keeping that the Romans kept, we today can have a very insightful peek into the everyday lives and thoughts of the typical Roman soldier of all ranks.

    Thanks for the questions.

  3. Thanks for the information. So interesting.