AbstractSeveral elements suggest that Polybius’ description of the Roman army in Book VI of his Histories depicts a rather outdated military system, making it hard to accept it as an up-to-date portrait of the legions by the mid-second century BC. After all, the Roman army had been experiencing a series of changes since the mid-third century that were affecting both the army’ structure and how citizens experienced military service. This paper argues that the famous episode of Spurius Ligustinus (Livy 42.34) contains several suggestions about the nature of these changes and their social ramifications. Although Livy embellished his source for rhetorical reasons, this episode still offers crucial evidence not only on the Roman army but especially, through the figure of Ligustinus himself, on the mid-Republican citizen-soldiers. Through a careful examination of key sections of this episode this paper aims to explore how, by this point, the army already presented features traditionally associated with Gaius Marius and his reforms, thus further emphasizing the outdatedness of Polybius’ description. By offering the very unique profile of an individual Roman citizen of the mid-second century and his relationship with military service, the speech of Ligustinus depicts a more believable and up-to-date representation of military service during the crucial decades of Roman Mediterranean expansion.
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 27, 2020