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13 Nasty, Brutish, and Short? The Demography of the Roman Imperial Navy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents the data and results from a program of research on the lives and deaths of the sailors and marines in the Roman imperial navy. It illuminates the demographic patterns, essentially the simple facts of life, for the sub-equestrian classes that comprise the enlistments in the navy and determines what the effects of naval enlistment were for their lives. The major topics addressed are recruitment patterns, age of enlistment, survival and life expectancy, and age at death. Although the chapter focuses on the Roman imperial navy, data on the army are included to allow analysis across branches of service with comparative and contrastive examples. Aggregation and analysis of documentary sources on the fleet, primarily epitaphs from the tombs of common sailors and marines that make up the key evidence, allows a determination of a number of key aspects of the lives of the enlisted personnel in the navy.

Keywords: deaths of sailors; demographic patterns; lives of sailors; Roman imperial navy

10.1163/9789004273870_015
/content/books/b9789004273870_015
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