Poor man’s war – rich man’s fight
Warfare was a critical source of prestige and legitimation for the Roman elite in the early and middle Republic. In particular, the distribution of war spoils helped to cement relationships and promote social harmony between and across the various classes and divisions present in Rome’s armed forces. The inclusion of heterogeneous groups within the Roman army (with varying “investment” and motivations), combined with formal and informal structures that promoted a sense of fairness in duty (shared dangers, relatively equitable distribution of rewards and spoils), gave the army a meritocratic and “republicanized” character – which, in turn, explains the seemingly high morale among Roman troops. The implementation of this rather complicated, but highly motivated army, with its strong republican safeguards against abuse of the citizen soldiers is crucial to understanding and explaining the success and the perpetuation of annual warfare at the end of the fourth century BC.