chapter  9
22 Pages


The army does indeed appear to have followed general trends, but always at one remove. Plebeian soldiers followed fashions and when they became the elite they placed themselves one rung above the middle. This tendency can be quantified. In 1916 L.R. Dean published a study of the cognomina of legionaries, which is still useful despite its age, because it was based on a truly representative sample of 5700 cases. 14 At the top there are 56 names with a frequency rate of more than 20; they are all Latin names except for one (Alexander). The second most frequent category is Greek, but it reveals only 192 names for 328 men. Apart from Celtic names (80) the rest is made up of negligible quantities, mainly Thracian, Phoenician and Arabic. In short, the onomastics of the legionaries reveal that they belonged to the Roman world.