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I was interested to learn in this thread that freedmen were not allowed to serve the Roman state as soldiers.

Why were they not allowed in the military? It seems odd to me that a freedman would be given coveted citizen status and all the implied rights and responsibilities but not allowed in the army.

I know in rare instances of necessity this rule must have been broken. I see in Livy XXII.57 that after Cannae Rome enrolled slaves, but only those who agreed to serve. Marcus Aurelius also enrolled slaves and gladiators (HA.21.6) and seems to have based his move on the ancient precedent, even giving the same “Volunteer” name.

It seems that in these cases the Romans went to great lengths to be sure the newly enrolled were volunteers and doing this willingly, which makes me think that slaves (and so, presumably, freedmen) were judged untrustworthy. Is this right, or are there other reasons for not allowing freedmen in the army?
Freedmen were not full citizens. They possessed a limited form of citizenship (libertus status), but were not permitted to vote or serve in the army. The principal allegiance of the freedman was always to his patronus (i.e. former master), to whom he owed a debt of gratitude (!), and was expected to serve and support - I would guess that this conflicted with the duties of a soldier, whose allegiance was always to the state, the emperor and his commanding officer.

As noted on the thread you linked, freedmen could serve in the vigiles (whose ranks were recruited, in the 1st century at least, entirely from liberti). After six years as a vigile, however, the freedman was awarded full citizenship, whereupon he could presumably enlist in the legions or (more likely) the urban cohorts or praetorians. I don't know if there's evidence for this happening though.

It would be interesting to know if a freedman, having served six years in the vigiles and won citizenship, was ever transferred to the praetorians and then, after sixteen years, becoming evocatus, was further promoted to the legionary centurionate - I would imagine that a man in such a position would not be too keen to record his career in too much detail!

- Nathan
It may be that freedmen still had a kind of commitment and obligation toward their previous master, plus the situation that many freedmen were in what would be considered as middle age for many had to reach the age of 30years before they could be given freedom.

I also think that the army would be more interested in the younger 18 to 20 year old fitter guys, for a freedman could be pushing mid 50s before his time was finished.
There is also that his master could have had great influence over what his future might be, for there were situations where ex-slaves could be running a business for their previous master.
I checked Sherwin-White (which I probably should have done to start) and found this:

Quote:It has been convincingly argued that in the Republic freedmen suffered no statutory limitations to their political rights and duties as roman citizens, but that social prejudice effectively excluded them from certain functions. Freedmen certainly served in the Roman legions in times of crisis, in so far as their age was permitted, and more frequently as marines, though they seem not to have been regularly enlisted at the annual legionary levies.(1) There was no absolute bar against servile personnel, since in the Hannibalic wars volones were in frequent use, who were slaves purchased from their masters and later liberated by the state. The more limited use of ordinary freedmen as soldiers was probably due to their age, as Livy hints, since few freedmen would be found in the younger age-groups, and also to their poverty, since many may have been too poor to qualify for service in the military classes.(2)

(1) Livy 10.21.4; 22.11.8; 36.2.15; 40.18.7; 42.27.3
(2) Livy 10.21.4; 22.11.8; 45.15.2

Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship

Note that he is talking about under the Republic. He goes on to list all the different rights that were curtailed during the Principate. I never found anything specifically about military service being barred by law, but it might be in there somewhere. Sherwin-White is rather dense.
Please elaborate, if you can, on the topic of Marines. We're putting together a small Marine contingent, and have a great interest in things along this line.
Rome was a society of castes, and the lines were very rarely crossed. We think of things in modern terms, where, everyone is created equal. Therefore, a freedman is simply acquiring what is morally his, his equality. And, what could be more meritorious than an individual who had earned his freedom?

Romans simply didn't see it that way. A slave was always a slave. If he was freed, it was due to the generosity of his master, and not because the slave was virtuous.
Certainly true, though the children of a freedman would be full citizens. But the real question I had was whether the "lowered class" of a freedman vs. a full citizen might make entry into the Marines more likely for freedmen, and if so, could that have contributed to the view by the legionaries that the Marines were a step below themselves.

Thoughts? Ideas? References?
Quote:I never found anything specifically about military service being barred by law

This is interesting - it seems you're right, and there was no actual law against military service. I had a look through Mouritsen's The Freedman in the Roman World, and it seems to have been more of a question of social distinction that a legal bar: as John McDermott says, freedmen retained the taint of their servile origins, and were held to be incapable of honour or dignity. That they were sometimes recruited into the army is borne out in the sources, but this is only mentioned in times of national threat or manpower shortage (e.g the Illyrian revolt, the Varian disaster, or the Marcomannic war), and their recruitment is mentioned as symptomatic of the gravity of the times, indicating that it wasn't done normally.

The civil wars at the end of the republic saw large numbers of both freedmen and slaves being recruited into the legions - Antonius (allegedly) manumitting thousands of slaves and enlisting them in his legions, Pompeius (allegedly) appointing freedmen to command legions, freedmen serving as military tribunes, and so on. The Augustan laws on manumission, Mouritsen says, were a direct response to this perceived breakdown in social order. While they did not specifically ban freedmen from military service, they insisted on the continuing servile infamy of the freed as opposed to the freeborn. One law (quoted by Mouritsen), the Tiberian lex visellia (AD24), while not specifically about military service, captures the tone quite well, prohibiting 'persons of the condition of freedmen from daring to assume such honours or dignities as belong to those who are freeborn'. It's the condition, rather than the actual legal status, which is important here.

Then again, Sara Elise Phang (The Marriage of Roman Soldiers p.342) makes the intriguing suggestion that the origo castris so often given on diplomas might actually be a convenient administrative camouflage for the recruitment of manumitted camp slaves or calones - such men, after all, would be ideal soldier material, having lived for most of their lives in military environments.

As for marines - I believe there's evidence for freedmen serving in the fleets as sailors or oarsmen, and so fighting when necessary, but this goes back to the question of what constitutes a 'marine'...

- Nathan
David, I really don’t see much in Sherwin-White about citizenship and marines. I did find this, though, which seems rather interesting.

Quote:Thus in A.D. 139 the emperors ceased to grant the citizenship retrospectively to the offspring of soldiers begotten during service; such children, to gain the citizenship, must serve like their fathers. At the same time the full privileges continued to be granted to the marines and sailors because the fleet was the unpopular service.

Quote: A slave was always a slave. If he was freed, it was due to the generosity of his master, and not because the slave was virtuous.

Yes, this makes sense to me. I did find something else that I think is quite fascinating, and could shed some light on the rather complicated relationship between Roman master and slave. It looks like the personal relationship was very important to the law.

Quote:The main concern for Augustus was to lay down strict rules for the modes of manumission so as to limit it to the deserving. Though the rules of the lex Aelia Sentia (A.D. 4) was designed to check the lavish manumission of young slaves and the undue generosity of young masters, it approved of such manumission ‘for a just cause’. This was interpreted broadly and was concerned more with personal relationships than with merit in isolation. Favoured categories covered kinsmen in servile status, personal retainers, and regular marriage with a female slave: only one category of practical utility is mentioned by Gaius. You could free your old nurse, but not your cook or your butler.
In the crises of AD 6 and AD 9, more particulary AD 9, Augustus did make use of freed slaves and freedmen in the emergency call up of troops. In the instance of freed slaves, their masters received compensation. But they were organized into special units separate from freeborn men, and issued different equipment, what ever that entailed. My copies of Cassius Dio, Vellius Paterculus and Suetonius are at home - so I can't at the moment cite the specific references.
Similarly after the Battle of Cannae, 216 BC, with its huge loss of life, freed slaves were enlisted, their masters compensated. Their duties were strictly defensive in nature as best I can recall. Which means they acted as a home guard, and were not enrolled into the new legions raised to be sent into battle against Hannibal.
A third crisis instance occurred under Marcus Aurelius, which may have led to the enlisting of freedmen and/or gladiators, etc. It was after the "plague" brought back by the eastern army spread, resulting in significant loss of life among the troops along the Danube. With the weakening of the that frontier zone, the Marcomanni and Quadi crossed the Danube and penetrated quite far into Roman territory, even into northern Italy. I know much less about this period, and don't have copies of the original sources covering the period.
I have read that it was not unheard of for wealthy Romans to manumit some or all of their slaves as part of their will. This would probably leave a number of younger freedmen both free and poor, as slaves could own nothing (in theory, anyway. Slaves were known to have squirreled away enough coin to purchase their freedom on occasion)and being suddenly released with literally the clothes on your back would leave one in dire straight. The Legion or Auxilia would look pretty attractive to someone in that situation. The Army would feed and clothe one, after all, and someone born a slave would likely welcome the structure of army life. The army wouldn't sell you off, either, although it might kill you.
I would have thought that slaves manumitted by the will of the dead master would then have become the freedman clients of his principle heir, with the normal obligations of a freedman to a former master (and vice versa - former masters were expected to provide for their freedmen and it would have been a normal sight to see freedmen queuing up in the morning outside their former master's door to collect their allowance of either money or food).

Crispvs