Military: Paid Duty

The strength of the mighty Ancient Roman military lay in its professionalism.  The Ancient Roman military was the first paid professional military in the ancient world.  Even people who belonged to the poorest classes in Ancient Rome had the opportunity to enlist in the military for compensation. All compensation was not equal among the ranks.  Like today, compensation could be decided depending upon years employed, goals reached, and titles held.

Military pay was also determined by success during battle, military importance, and service rendered.  Not all pay was the same and perks were different for each position.  For example, a newly enlisted soldier might become a war hero and move up the ranks quickly because he earned the respect of the Roman military and receives monetary compensation and a high title for his skilled fighting and bravery.  On the other hand, soldiers who may have served much longer could receive less then this war hero because they have not accomplished as much or provide adequate skills that require higher pay.  Because there were several positions on all levels of the military, there was a place for everyone in the Ancient Roman military from generals to servants.

Soldiers in the Ancient Roman army signed contracts as Rome grew and evolved into an empire, the Ancient Roman government and military leaders knew that supporting and professionalizing their military was the key to success.  Roman leaders made sure veterans were given land and ensured Romans could make a career out of the army.  After a career of 25 years, Ancient Roman soldiers were allowed to retire with a pension.

Depending on the Emperor and time period, legionary soldiers would receive anywhere from 225 to 500 denarii for services.   However, the state would deduct food and clothing costs from this salary in the form of taxes.  Soldiers were allowed to collect valuables and sell slaves from people they had conquered during battle which brought in a generous profit.

Once soldiers of the legion completed their service in the Ancient Roman Military, they would receive 3,000-5,000 denarii or an area of high-quality farmland.  Giving high-quality farmland to retired soldiers helped to establish control over frontier provinces and unruly territories.  Having trained Ancient Roman military minds overseeing land not only created control, but also gave military leaders a piece of mind that some of their own were looking out after these areas which meant less chance of outside attack or rebellion from disorderly citizens.

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