- Roman military decorations and punishments
As with most other military forces the Roman military adopted a "carrot and stick" approach to military, with an extensive list of decorations for military gallantry and likewise a range of punishments for military transgressions.
Decorations, awards and victory titles
Military diploma- a notarized copy of an original bronze constitution issued by the emperor in Rome, granting Roman citizenship to foreign veterans who had served for 25 years or more in the Roman auxiliary forces or Praetorian Fleets.
Grass Crown- (Latin, "corona obsidionalis" or "corona graminea") was the highest and rarest of all military decorations. It was presented only to a general or commander who broke the blockade of a beleaguered Roman Army.
Civic Crown- (Latin: "corona civica") was a chaplet of common oak leaves woven to form a crown. During the Roman Republic, and the subsequent Principate, it was regarded as the second highest military decoration a citizen could aspire to (the Grass Crown being held in higher regard).
Naval crown- (Latin "corona navalis"), was a gold crown awarded to the first man who boarded an enemy ship during a naval engagement. In style, the crown was made of gold and surmounted with the beaks of ships.
*Gold Crown - (Latin "Corona Aurea") Awarded to both Centurions and apparently some principales, for killing an enemy in single combat and holding the ground to the end of the battle.
*Battlements Crown - ("Corona Vallaris" or "corona muralis") Was made of gold and decorated with the uprights (valli) of an entrenchment. It was awarded to the first soldier or Centurion to mount the wall or palisade of an enemy town [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39] .
*Crown of the Preserver - awarded to "those who have shielded and saved any of the citizens or allies" [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39] - Polybius relates that the crown is presented by those civilians the soldier saved and adds that "the man thus preserved also reverences his preserver as a father all through his life, and must treat him in every way like a parent." [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39] .
ynonyms for Emperor
Augustus(also "polytonic|Αὔγουστος" or "polytonic|Σεβαστός"), "Majestic" or "Venerable"; an honorific cognomenexclusive to the emperor
**polytonic|Αὐτοκράτωρ, "Autocrat" (lit. "Self-ruler"); Greek title equivalent to imperator i.e. Commander-in-Chief
**polytonic|Βασιλεύς ("Basileus") , Greek title meaning sovereign, popularly used in the east to refer to the emperor; a formal title of the Roman emperor beginning with
*Caesar (also "polytonic|Καίσαρ" or "Nobilissimus Caesar"), "Caesar" or "Most Noble Caesar"; an honorific name later used to identify an Emperor-designate
*Censor, a Republican office with a five year term and one coequal officeholder
Consul, the highest magistracy of the Roman republic with a one year term and one coequal officeholder
*Dominus, "Lord" or "Master"; an honorific title popular in the Empire's middle history
Imperator, "Commander" or "Commander-in-Chief"; a victory title taken on accession to the purple and after a major military victory; the praenomenof most Roman emperors
Imperator Destinatus, "Destined to be Emperor"; heir apparent, used by Septimius Severusfor Caracalla.
*"Imperium maius", "greater "imperium"; absolute power to a degree greater than any other, including power of enacting capital punishment
*Invictus, "Unconquered"; an honorific title
Pater Patriae, "Father of the Fatherland"; an honorific title
*Pius Felix, "Pious and Blessed" (lit. "Dutiful and Happy"); an honorific title
Pontifex Maximus, "Supreme Pontiff" or "Chief Priest" (lit. "Greatest Bridgemaker"); a title and office of Republican origin - could not be used by "Catholic" Emperors, while by that time only the popehad a claim on the title of highest religious authority.
Princeps, "First Citizen" or "Leading Citizen"; an honorific title denoting the status of the emperor as first among equals
*Princeps Iuventatis, "Prince of Youth"; an honorific title awarded to a presumptive Emperor-designate
Princeps Senatus, "First Man of the Senate" a Republican office with a five year term
*"Tribunicia potestas", "tribunician power"; the powers of a tribune of the people including sacrosanctity and the veto
Victory titles were treated as Latin "cognomina" and were usually the name of the enemy defeated by the commander. Hence, names like Africanus ("the African"), Numidicus ("the Numidian"), Isauricus ("the Isaurian"), Creticus ("the Cretan"), Gothicus ("the Goth"), Germanicus ("the German") and Parthicus ("the Parthian"), seemingly out of place for ardently patriotic Romans, are in fact expressions of Roman superiority over these peoples. The most famous grantee of Republican victory title was of course Publius Cornelius Scipio, who for his great victories in the Second Punic War was awarded by the Roman Senate the title "Africanus" and is thus known to history as "Scipio Africanus".
The practice continued in the Roman Empire, although it was subsequently amended by some Roman Emperors who desired to emphasise the totality of their victories by adding Maximus ("the Greatest") to the victory title (e.g., Parthicus Maximus, "the Greatest Parthian").
Decorations (Medal Equivalents)
Polybius writes that "After a battle in which some of them have distinguished themselves, the general calls an assembly of the troops, and bringing forward those whom he considers to have displayed conspicuous valour, first of all speaks in laudatory terms of the courageous deeds of each and of anything else in their previous conduct which deserves commendation" [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39] . Only after this are the military decorations presented:
Torc" - gold necklet
*"armillae" - gold armbands
*"phalerae" - gold, silver, or bronze sculpted disks worn on the breastplate during parades
hasta pura" - a ceremonial silver spear awarded to "the man who has wounded an enemy" [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39]
*a small silver replica of a standard or flag (the vexillum).
*a cup - presented to an infantryman "who has slain and stripped an enemy" [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39] not in the normal melee of battle but voluntarily in single combat after throwing themselves into danger
*"horse trappings" - presented to a cavalryman "who has slain and stripped an enemy" [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 39] not in the normal melee of battle but voluntarily in single combat after throwing themselves into danger
*part of the booty and spoils after a conquest including slaves
missio honesta" - honorable discharge
Ovation- a less-honored form of the Roman triumph. Ovations were granted, when war was not declared between enemies on the level of states, when an enemy was considered basely inferior (slaves, pirates), and when the general conflict was resolved with little to no bloodshed or danger to the army itself.
*Triumph - a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly honour the military commander (
dux) of a notably successful foreign war or campaign and to display the glories of Roman victory.
When the Roman soldier enrolled in service to the state, he swore a military oath known as the "
sacramentum": originally to the Senate and Roman People, later to the general and the emperor. The "sacramentum" stated that he would fulfill his conditions of service on pain of punishment up to and inclusive of death. Discipline in the army was extremely rigorous by modern standards, and the general had the power to summarily execute any soldier under his command.
Polybius divides the punishments inflicted by a commander on one or more troops into punishments for military crimes, and punishments for "unmanly acts", although there seems to be little difference in the harsh nature of the punishment between the two classes.
Punishments for crimes
Fustuarium" or " bastinado" — Following a court-martial sentence for desertion or dereliction of duty, the soldier would be stoned, or beaten to death by cudgels, in front of the assembled troops, by his fellow soldiers, whose lives had been put in danger. Soldiers under sentence of "fustuarium" who escaped were not pursued, but lived under sentence of banishment from Rome [Polybius, The Histories, Volume III, Chapter 37] . Polybius writes that the "fustuarium" is "also inflicted on those who steal anything from the camp; on those who give false evidence; on young men who have abused their persons; and finally on anyone who has been punished thrice for the same fault."
Pecunaria multa" - fines or deductions from the pay allowance.
Floggingin front of the century, cohort or legion.
*"demanding sureties", including the re-taking of the military oath known as the sacramentum.
*For treason or theft, the punishment would most probably be being placed in a sack of snakes and thrown into a nearby river or lake.Another punishment in the Roman Military only applied to people involved in the prison system; this rule was that if a prisoner died due to the punishment inflicted by Roman legionnaires, unless he was given the death penalty, then the leader of the troops would be given the same punishment.
Punishments for "unmanly acts"
*"Decimatio" - a form of extreme military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers in exceptional cases. A cohort selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group cast lots, and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside of the Roman encampment. This punishment was forgotten over time since the early Republic, but the ancient punishment was resurrected by Marcus Crassus during the Spartacus gladiator rebellion in 72BC, when two of his legions disobeyed his direct orders not to engage the enemy. As a result they suffered a terrible defeat. Crassus' response to the disobeyal was brutal. He assembled the two legions and pulled out every 10th man as he walked across the ranks. Each man who was pulled out was to be beaten to death by his preceding nine comrades. Some scholars say that Julius Caesar joined these two legions to form his legendary "Legio X Equitata"
Castigatio" - being hit by the centurion with his staff or "animadversio fustium"
*Reduction of rations, or to be forced to eat barley instead of the usual grain ration
*Whipping with the "
flagrum" ("flagellum", "flagella"), or "short whip" — a much more brutal punishment than simple flogging. The "short whip" was used for slave volunteers, "volones", who comprised the majority of the army in the later years of the Roman Empire.
gradus deiectio" - a reduction in rank
missio ignominiosa" - a dishonorable discharge
*Loss of advantages gained from length of service.
militiae mutatio" - relegation to inferior service or duties.
munerum indictio" - additional duties
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