The Fall of the Roman Empire
On the field of battle it is a disgrace to the [German] chief to be surpassed in valour by his companions, to the companions not to come up to the valour of their chief. As for leaving a battle alive after your chief has fallen, that means a lifelong infamy and shame. To defend and protect him, to put down one's own acts of heroism to his credit -- that is what they really mean by "allegiance." The chiefs fight for victory, the companions for their chief....The Germans have no taste for peace; renown is easier won among perils, and you cannot maintain a large body of companions except by violence and war....You will find it harder to persuade a German to plough the land and to await in its annual produce with patience than to challenge a foe and earn the prize of wounds. He thinks it spiritless and slack to gain by sweat what he can buy with blood.
Cornelius Tacitus, On Germany, translated by Harold Mattingly ( Baltimore, 1948), pp. 112-13. Tacitus was a Roman soldier and administrator of the late first century A.D.
With his domination of the Roman state established, Augustus set about reducing the size of the army and institutionalizing his control over it. The sixty legions he commanded in 30 B.C. were reduced to twenty-eight and in 13 B.C. to twenty-five, which number then rarely changed for the next 300 years. Some 100,000 veterans were pensioned off, mostly with land on the frontier. The number of heavy infantrymen in each legion was raised to 5,500. From 3,000 to 4,000 cavalry and light infantry served as auxiliaries in each legion as well. The legions were posted along the frontiers with the greatest number where the foreign threat was the greatest. In A.D. 23, for example, the Rhineland had eight legions and Syria four. The legions were posted in the same place for decades and even centuries and kept the same name and number; for example, Legio III Augustus was in North Africa for over 200 years.
Augustus was determined to make it impossible for a legion commander to challenge him, so he strengthened the laws keeping legions out of