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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sänger: Römische Veteranen unter den Severern und frühen Soldatenkaisern in Äygpten

Sänger, Patrick (2009)
Dissertation, Universität Wien. 
Historisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät

The archives of the veterans Aelius Sarapammon and Aelius Syrion cover a time span from the Severan dynasty to the beginnings of the soldier emperors. Their protagonists came from the village Ankyronon situated in the Heracleopolites (middle Egypt). Based on these archives the view of the veteran community in Egypt needs a new historical evaluation in many respects. Until now the sources informed us nearly exclusively about the numerous veterans, who lived in the Arsinoite villages of Karanis and Philadelphia, but for whom documentation ceases at the start of the 3rd century. Now the evidence of the two protagonists from the Heracleopolites shows on the one hand, that population groups being qualified for military service because of their social and economic background existed not only in the Arsinoites, but also in other parts of the province. Their financial situation demonstrates on the other hand, that the Constitutio Antoniniana in the year 212 did not lead to a decline of the veteran class, as was assumed by historians up so far. This popular opinion is based on the rich papyrological documentation of the above mentioned villages Karanis and Philadelphia. However, the archives of Sarapammon and Syrion may provide a new estimation not only of the veteran community of the Heracleopolites but also (of those) of the whole Egyptian province. They definitely do not suggest a general detoriation of the living standard of veterans. Quite the contrary: Sarapammon, whose latest safely dated document falls under the reign of Severus Alexander, was rather a wealthy person. Syrion, whose business activities can be observed from the reign of the last-mentioned emperor to around 250–255, was in a financial position, which we would expect only from members of the municipal honoratiores. Maybe the veteran was a member of this community. In the 2nd century the financial situation of veterans clearly exceeded those of the remaining village population. But a property, which could be compared with those of the urban upper class, was certainly the exception (before the 3rd century). The reasons for Syrion’s wealth may lie in the rise of soldiers’ pay by Septimius Severus (197) and Caracalla (211/2) as well as the enhancement of the severance pay by the last mentioned emperor. Also the amount of the special gift payments called donativa might have increased under the rule of the Severans. As Syrion was recruited probably in the year 194, he profited from the advanced income situation, which was without doubt an essential source of his cash-property. Thus the question arises if the archive of Syrion reflects a generally increasing property of military members in the course of the first half of the 3rd century. Without any further useful data, however, our understanding (of the economic development) of this period remains vague.

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