Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt: A Social History

Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt: A Social History

Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt: A Social History

Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt: A Social History


The province of Egypt provides unique archaeological and documentary evidence for the study of the Roman army. In this fascinating social history Richard Alston examines the economic, cultural, social and legal aspects of a military career, illuminating the life and role of the individual soldier in the army. Soldier and Society in Roman Eygpt provides a complete reassessment of the impact of the Roman army on local societies, and convincingly challenges the orthodox picture. The soldiers are seen not as an isolated elite living in fear of the local populations, but as relatively well-integrated into local communities. The unsuspected scale of the army's involvement in these communities offers a new insight into both Roman rule in Egypt and Roman imperialism more generally.


This book is very largely based on my University of London Ph.D. thesis completed in 1990. For various reasons, publication has been delayed and the final version of this book has been written while I was enjoying a British Academy Post-doctoral fellowship. I thank the British Academy for their support. I benefited greatly from the knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff of the relevant London university departments and have been greatly helped by the staff of the Institute of Classical Studies. There are, of course, some people who have been more directly involved in my work. I must especially thank Dominic Rathbone who supervised my thesis and guided the transformation from thesis to book. I shudder to think how many times he has read sections of this work, has corrected my errors, restrained my wilder ideas and pointed me in the right direction. I would also like to thank my external examiners, Tim Cornell and Alan Bowman, whose help and detailed criticism have been invaluable, Jane Rowlandson, Margaret Roxan, Lin Foxhall, Averil Cameron, and Donald Bailey. I owe a great debt also to Kate Gilliver upon whose skills and knowledge I have had frequently to call. I must also thank Sally Tsoukaris for the drawings. My greatest debt though is to my family and to Sara who has put up with my obsessions and enthusiasms with unfailing patience and support. Any failings or errors in the work are, however, my own.

Richard Alston

Department of Classics,

Royal Holloway, University of London

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