It was a mess, 2nd century BC and Rome had no army.Troops were drawn periodically from the population of male, property-owning citizens between 17 and 46.Men were ranked by age and height to ensure that no one legion monopolized the prime candidates, officers from various legions took their pick in turn. Romans considered military service a privilege, even though the soldiers received a small allowance and had to provide their own weapons and equipment.This levy system worked well as long as the tour was brief.At the end of the 2nd century resentment for the levy flared up, the need for more troops made Roman consul Gauis Marius overlook the property-owning requirement and entice poor citizens by giving arms and equipment at the states' expense.They flocked to the city and served for 16 year terms.
As the Republic dissolved and emperors came into power they realized their power rested on their control of these massive armed forces, paid for out of the emperor's own pocket and bound to him by an oath of allegiance.Without a generous pension, maintaining a standing army would have been almost impossible.
Becoming a soldier…..Typically men in their late teens and early twenties wanting to enlist reported to a recruiting station.He needed to show documents proving he was a citizen (eligible for legions) or a provincial (assigned to auxila), this rule was dropped after the AD 212edict making provincials citizens.If he met the height requirement of 5'8", passed the physical exam and took an oath of service then he was sent to boot camp.
According to Casson, in basic training, a recruit:
"ran and jumped to harden his physique, learned to swim, practiced marching with the standard military pace, which enabled troops to cover 24 miles in 5 hours, and took lessons in handling the legionary's standard weapon, the short sword; at the outset he hacked with a wooden s…