RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: crippled veterans
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Does someone know a good study about crippled Roman soldiers/veterans and about the so called "missio causaria"?
Also source material is needed.
I'm looking for academic studies, no popular books.
It seems there hasn't been a lot of research about this topic. I'd like to do some research on my own about it. If someone could push me in the right direction, it would be nice.

It would be of great help.

Thanks!
Hello,

First post here, but I hope I can offer some help nevertheless.

I have not come across much evidence for this topic in secondary sources, but there is a short chapter in G. Wensch-Klein, Soziale Aspekte des römischen Heerwesens in der Kaiserzeit, F. Steiner 1998, pp. 88ff. - provided you read German. The chapter is available online at Google Books here. As usual, footnotes and bibliography might help.

I short, we don't seem to have much evidence beyond the fact that, after an examination by doctors and a "competent judge" (iudex competens) the soldiers would receive their honesta missio and the regular benefits of a veteran (C.I. 12,35,6 under Gordian). The author goes on to say that we don't know what fate awaited them afterwards, but she cites an example where Pompey settled his veterans and invalids in Nikopolis. Wensch-Klein suggests that the military camaraderie would allow the invalids to fit in, rather than end up being ostracised by society.

There's a few more details, but that does seem to be the extent of research to my knowledge but similar chapters may exist on other books dealing with wider themes relating to the Roman army.

The idea that they would end up in the settlements around the camp and the military colonies, if they were lucky, seems reasonable. How much their comrades would have helped them along, and whether there was an equivalent to the funeral funds they could draw from, seems conjectural.

I'd be very interested in hearing the results of your research.

Best,

M. Caecilius
(Max C.)
I don't have any evidence but it seems possible that some soldiers who were new regular
discharge may have been kept on on restricted duties perhaps in the fabrica or administrative duties. There are passages about crippled soldiers complaining about being keep in service BEYOND their required service time.
Quote:There are passages about crippled soldiers complaining about being keep in service BEYOND their required service time.

Are you referring to Tacitus, Ann., 1.17 - in the context of the mutinies after the death of Augustus? If so, this would show that such practice did occur, but was not seen as acceptable (after all, it contributed to a large-spread mutiny). Tiberius and his agents seems to have been fairly effective in calming matters. Though I concur that it's likely that such practices were not ended once and for all and that such situations would have repeated itself often enough to save money.

Gordian's rule of a "competent judge" deciding whether or not a soldier would stay might could be used to support your suggestion. Such a person could quite well have decided that a soldier was maybe not fit for service in the thick of battle, but could still work in the fabricae, look after the draft animals, work as a messenger or with the catapults, depending on his wounds. I guess it would depend on whether the soldier walked with a limp or had his leg amputated: perhaps checking the medical writers (Celsus, Galen...) would be worth a try?

It would also depend on the question of why Gordian (or, if he re-affirmed the rule rather than innovated) regulated for a tight examination. Was the army desperate to keep people (who were trying to get out under any pretext), or were the soldiers trying to stay on receiving the benefits of legionary service (or avoid potential life as an beggar after being left without pay) despite no longer measuring up to a high standard? Could the Roman army afford to discharge people who could still wield a sword? The passage from Tacitus seems to suggest that, at least occasionally, the army was pretty desperate to keep up its numbers; at other times, it may have had more of a choice to keep up to an ideal standard as proned later by Vegetius.
Quote: Was the army desperate to keep people (who were trying to get out under any pretext), or were the soldiers trying to stay on receiving the benefits of legionary service (or avoid potential life as an beggar after being left without pay) despite no longer measuring up to a high standard?

Human nature would suggest that both of these were true to a greater or lesser degree throughout all of history.
I already read the article G. Wensch-Klein, Soziale Aspekte des römischen Heerwesens in der Kaiserzeit, F. Steiner 1998, pp. 88ff.
It seems to be the only article that has its focus on injured veterans.

Thanks a lot to everyone who has answered until now.

In the meantime I have defined my research.
I'm planning to do my study about the legal conditions of these crippled veterans and its evolution in time. Maybe I can compare it to the honorable discharge (missio honesta). On the other hand I'll look into the social status of these crippled veterans during and after their service and its evolution in time. Did they get admired or repelled? Was there any compassion or were they laughed at?
One of the interesting case-studies will probably be about Marcus Sergius Silus.

There seems to be no information about the early republic. Probably there weren't any laws or measures for veterans yet?

No doubt there's some useful material in the writings of Christian writers. The only problem is that I can't read everything that has been written (the study has to be completed in a year).


More suggestions are still welcome (multiple languages are possible). Could you please always put a reference with each statement, so I can look into it myself.
Quote:
...
Did they get admired or repelled? Was there any compassion or were they laughed at?
One of the interesting case-studies will probably be about Marcus Sergius Silus.
...

I'm curious as to how you can study this objectively when people's reactions are so subjective. A man who has lost a hand or a foot because of damage or gangrene has a very obvious reason for being dismissed and could be seen as having sacrificed something for the army. Someone with a severe concussion who gets dizzy spells all the time doesn't have a very visible handicap and might be perceived as a coward by those who don't know him well.

Try to imagine how even you would react to two men - one with a limp and one missing an arm. Which would you respect more? Etc.

Then there's the topic of the men themselves. Just to paint two very broad extremes - do they spend all day in the taverna, unshaven, filthy, and drinking and moaning about "When I was in Dacia...", or do they maintain some semblance of pride and take up some family business interest?

I don't mean that it isn't a good study topic, just that it deals with such a subjective matter that it has to be examined in great detail to draw meaningful conclusions. Maybe it's not the best choice for an ancillary topic in your research?
Quote:I already read myself.
test