Little inquiry has been made into the motivations for the marriage ban, a policy which inconvenienced the soldiers, but especially inconvenienced their children and their “wives.” The women’s legal position was especially weak: Roman legal interpretation tended to favor the soldiers against their women.
The traditional reconstruction of the marriage policy emphasizes the military diplomas and regards soldiers as forming unions with peregrine women; their sons of peregrine status were induced to join the army in order to obtain the Roman citizenship, especially after A.D. 140, when the children of auxiliaries were no longer granted the citizenship at their fathers’ discharge. The army thus became a self-recruiting caste. The demographic data from our survey of the soldiers’ epitaphs renders this reconstruction implausible.
It is necessary to investigate the possible origins of the marriage ban in Roman military culture. The literary sources suggest that the motives for the marriage policy were shaped by an ideological and cultural discourse constructing the soldier’s role and women’s roles. Roman disciplina militaris is informed by these attitudes. Structural reasons for the marriage ban should probably be sought in the nature of Augustus’ military reforms: in establishing the terms of service, pay, pensions, and funding for a long-service professional army, he was both creating a “new” army and restoring “old” discipline.