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Legion: Life in the Roman Army

Available March 2024

Richard Abdy

Follow the life of an ordinary Roman soldier—from enlistment to the battlefield—in this intimate look at everyday life in the Roman army.

The scale and organization of the Roman army was unprecedented in the ancient Western world, leading to it becoming the West’s first permanent, pensionable military profession. Through the advent of the “career soldier,” the Roman army created an avenue for noncitizens to gain enfranchisement, build wealth, and advance their social standing upon the conclusion of their designated term of service. This story focuses on the soldiers, their families, and the many other people who belonged to the military communities scattered throughout the empire to illuminate what life was like for these individuals. Through scholarship and the letters left behind from common soldiers—such as two ordinary provincial recruits, Claudius Terentianus and Apion—we’re afforded a deeply personal and micro-level view of military life.

This volume dispels preconceived notions about the Roman army—for example, that forts were exclusively the domain of male soldiers—while addressing the violence committed by soldiers toward women, conquered subjects, and enslaved peoples. Furthermore, alongside the vivid picture of army life, this book examines the social evolution of the army and how it gradually transformed the state it was established to protect.

Richard Abdy is curator of Roman coins in the department of coins and medals at the British Museum.

“Everything the best history books can be: erudite, entertaining and eloquent.”
—Terry Deary, author and creator of Horrible Histories

320 pages
7 1/2 x 10 inches
250 color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-918-9
paperback

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum

2024