2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Virtus Vulnerum: The Virtue of War Wounds from the Middle Roman Republic to the Early Roman Empire
Gabriel D. Baker
Prof. Martha L. Rose, Faculty Mentor

Martial courage, or virtus, was arguably the root virtue of the Roman Republic and early Empire, and definitive of Roman social attitudes toward the army and military service. This value brought praise and honor to the soldiers who were most able to face danger on the battlefield. One key facet of virtus was the emphasis it placed on wounds. After all, wounds were the physical markers of a soldier's bravery, and undeniably evinced his courage (wounds on the front) or his cowardice (wounds on the back). As one traces the malleable history of the Republican military, one can see how the social emphases placed upon wounds changed with military values. In the early to mid-Republic, wounds were scars to be worn with pride by the Roman aristocracy; however, as the army became professionalized and less bound to the aristocracy, wounds became the virtus badges of poor soldiers and lower officers.

Keywords: Ancient History, Ancient Rome, Military History


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 36-3
Location: OP 2111
Time: 1:45

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