Commemorating Roman soldiers

An article based on the author's MA thesis examines how the memory of a Roman soldier was perpetuated.

Here is the opening:

During the Imperial period Roman soldiers devised unique commemoration practices to ensure a lasting posthumous memory. According to Cicero, “the life of the dead is set in the memory of the living.” The Roman perception of memoria (memory) is much different than contemporary perceptions. It encompassed more than the act of reproducing or recalling an individual or event. Memoria reflected an individual’s character and virtues and was directly linked to immortality. In pre-Christian Rome immortality and identity survived through memory. If one’s memory existed after death, they were immortal. This principle permeated society and according to Eric Varner, the belief that a deceased individual possessed an afterlife through the perpetuation of his memory is at the core of Roman cultural identity. To demonstrate the persistence of memory in Roman society throughout its history one may reference the Late Republican author Sallust and the Late Imperial author Eusebius. By citing two Roman authors, one from the Republican west and the other from the Imperial east, one may identify the importance of memory in Roman society over a span of 300 years. Writing in the middle of the first century B.C., Sallust noted, “since the span of life which we enjoy is short, we may make the memory of our lives as long as possible.” Eusebius, writing in the early fourth century A.D., commented that non-Christian Romans, “devising some consolation for the frail and precarious duration of human life, having thought by the erection of monuments to glorify the memories of their ancestors with immortal honors, some have employed…inscriptions deep on tablets and monuments…thought to transmit the virtues of those whom they honored to perpetual remembrance.”

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