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What was a Roman soldier's life like?

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Quick Answer

Roman soldiers were unable to marry, lived under strict conditions and trained hard for battle. Many also carried out other duties, and faced the threat of severe punishment when they did something wrong.

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Full Answer

Only men over the age of 20 were able to become Roman soldiers, and once they adopted their role, they were not allowed to marry until their service ended 16 years later. In order to present a formidable front to their opponents, Roman soldiers underwent rigorous training. This training prepared soldiers for sieges in the field, guarding city walls and attacking enemy cities and walls. During this time, they would continue training to prepare themselves for difficult mental and physical tasks.

Like those serving in modern armies, soldiers were able to adopt specialist skills. This included swimming, using slingshots and firing bows and arrows. Upon joining the army, they would swear an oath and sacrificed their right to appeal death sentences. Each one lived under the threat of severe punishments, which ranged from food rationing and flogging to death. The worst of these punishments arose when an entire group committed a crime, and it would involve every 10th solider being beaten to death by his contemporaries. However, soldiers who fulfilled their duties well would benefit from symbolic crowns and financial bonuses.

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