Roman army recruitment procedure

Jul 2011
108
Alpha Centauri
Hi guys!

I have bit of a problem n' thinking that someone here can help.
I'm interested in Roman army recruitment procedures. I know that they especially took great care about recruit heights and general physical condition, but never manage to find anything about procedure as such.
So, if anyone is "equipped" with that particular knowledge, or know some useful links, please go ahead, make my day.
 
Nov 2010
1,681
Londinium
Depends on what era of Roman history you are talking about. In the Republic citizens would have been drafted if they owned property. This gave them something to fight for as an incentive. In the late republic generals such as Marius and Pompey had their own private armies and would have picked the best men possible for their armies. I think I read somewhere that recruits would have paraded on the Field of Mars for the generals to "scout" them.

I'm not sure on Imperial armies.
 
Jul 2011
108
Alpha Centauri
Thanks for the reply. I'm especially interested in Augustan period when the army was fully professionalized. Say, in the first few decades of the 1. century AD
 

Salah

Historum Emeritas
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
I know the draft was still used amongst urban populations as late as the Augustan era - a legionary draft was imposed on Rome and Ostia during the Illyrian Revolt of 6-9 CE.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,206
Navan, Ireland
Thanks for the reply. I'm especially interested in Augustan period when the army was fully professionalized. Say, in the first few decades of the 1. century AD
The focus of this book is slightly later but is just about the period.

[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/images/0500251517/ref=dp_image_z_0?ie=UTF8&n=266239&s=books"]Legionary: The Roman Soldier's Unofficial Manual Unofficial [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51ufIfW0yJL[/ame]

There was the lecti -- involuntary conscripts, vicarii someone induced to volunteer in place of a conscript and the voluntarrii a person joining of their own free will.

You had to be a Roman citizen, a bacholar (on joining if married immediate divorce) healthy, at least 5ft 10 in, a full set of male genitalia, good eyesight, a good character (a little petty crime might be overlooked but you could not use enlistment as a means of escaping justice) and to get on a letter of recommendation was well advised.
 
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pixi666

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
2,534
The Great Indoors
First, an inquisitio, an investigating board, would check the recruit's citizenship and make sure he had a medical examination.

Vegetius, who wrote a military manual in the 4th Century, said:

The young soldier, therefore, ought to have a lively eye,
should carry his head erect, his chest should be broad, his shoulders
muscular and brawny, his fingers long, his arms strong, his waist small, his
shape easy, his legs and feet rather nervous than fleshy. When all these
marks are found in a recruit, a little height may be dispensed with, since it is
of much more importance that a soldier should be strong than tall.
Gaius Marius made the minimum height 5 feet 10 inches, and IIRC to be a Praetorian you had to be at least 6 feet tall.

Here's a good source if you want more information: Becoming a Soldier
 

markdienekes

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
4,877
Oxford
Gaius Marius made the minimum height 5 feet 10 inches, and IIRC to be a Praetorian you had to be at least 6 feet tall.

Here's a good source if you want more information: Becoming a Soldier
That's interesting, I've always been led to believe that Romans were much shorter - I'm 5 ft 10 Inches and that's average height for today, I'd have thought it would have been much shorter a couple of thousand years ago.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,206
Navan, Ireland
That's interesting, I've always been led to believe that Romans were much shorter - I'm 5 ft 10 Inches and that's average height for today, I'd have thought it would have been much shorter a couple of thousand years ago.
".....the Roman foot is about one third of an inch shorter than later measures of the same name"

pg 11 of the book I showed above
 
Sep 2010
9,988
Bahrain
I would imagine a poster of a Roman Soldier with the following sentence:

Io! Join the Legions! See the World! Meet Interesting Barbarians! :D

Oh wait... weren't most people illiterate back then ? :eek:
 

pixi666

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
2,534
The Great Indoors
That's interesting, I've always been led to believe that Romans were much shorter - I'm 5 ft 10 Inches and that's average height for today, I'd have thought it would have been much shorter a couple of thousand years ago.
That's a good point... I initially wondered if it was a unit difference, but a Roman foot is very close to a modern foot, so it isn't that... Strange.

This is total speculation, but perhaps the numbers were bumped up by later writers? The Romans were fans of altering their histories to make themselves look better, so it's possible.