Fratres Romani in Dalmatia: the social dynamics of Legio VII and the construction of community and identity through Roman funerary monuments
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 00:38 authored by Ewan Shanks Coopey
The Imperial Roman military consisted of a vast collection of armies and overlapping sub-communities, causing it to be a multi-layered socio-cultural entity. Scholars have explored its social dynamics since the 1980s, with epigraphic material - particularly of a funerary nature - providing some of the best insight into the social 'reality' of members of the 'Roman military community'. The Roman provinces of southeastern Europe, such as Dalmatia, are home to a great deal of well-catalogued archaeological and epigraphical material which could contribute to these studies, however it is often left unconsidered. As such, this thesis conducts an epigraphical and archaeological analysis of the 1st century CE Romano-Dalmatian inscribed funerary monuments of the Seventh Legion (Legio VII Claudia pia fidelis) in order to study the social dynamics of the unit, as well as the construction of identity and community. This is done by applying a theoretically underpinned and historically contextualised approach to studying community and identity onto the detailed epigraphic corpus. It is demonstrated that Legio VII was home to a complex social network of servicemen - one which was intersected by various social, familial, legal, and military roles, relations, and symbols, and which was rejuvenated and negotiated through the textual, sculptural, and spatial dimensions of the soldiers' funerary monuments. Moreover, these very funerary monuments were socially agential within the network, acting as a medium through which servicemen could symbolically and relationally (re)construct military identities and (re)define the nature of their community. Not only does this shed light on the social dynamics of a Roman unit-based community, but it also reinforces the image of funerary monuments as socially constructive mediums that has emerged in recent classical scholarship. Finally, this thesis demonstrates the value of theoretically engaged analyses of the detailed datasets collated by local scholarship on Romano-Dalmatia -- summary.