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Meant the regular cash payment received by soldiers at the end of the campaigning season, and so came to mean a period of military service, originally a season, but later a year. In the imperial period stipendium designated military pay, specifically one of the three annual instalments by which the troops were paid, or one year of service.


During the war with Veii (c.400 bc) a payment was first made to Roman soldiers while on long campaigns to assist with their living expenses. In the 2nd cent. the legionary was probably receiving 180 dēnarii in a year of 360 days. After the revaluation of the coinage in the time of the Gracchi this will have amounted to 112½ denarii, which accords with Suetonius' statement that Caesar doubled legionary pay, since legionaries received 225 denarii under Augustus, and there is no indication that he increased the sum. There were fixed deductions to meet the cost of food, clothing, and the repair or replacement of weapons. Deductions seem to have continued throughout the imperial period. Domitian was the first emperor to increase military pay, by adding another instalment of 75 denarii, then Septimius Severus increased it, probably to 600, and Caracalla to 900 denarii. Praetorians received higher rates, more than three times legionary pay by ad 14 (750 denarii), and this differential was maintained. The salary of the soldiers of the urban cohorts (see cohortes urbanae) was 375 denarii. An auxiliary infantryman probably received five‐sixths of a legionary's pay, with higher rates for cavalrymen.

Junior officers below the rank of centurion were paid at one and a half times or twice the normal legionary rate, while centurions and primipili received substantial salaries (perhaps 13,500 denarii for a chief centurion in the early first century). By the end of the 3rd cent. inflation had so reduced the value of military salaries that a system of payment in kind was adopted.

Length of Service

In the republic a man between the age of 17 and 46 was expected to be available for up to sixteen years service as an infantryman (ten years as a cavalryman), although in the 2nd cent. he would not normally serve more than six years continuously on active service. In 13 bc Augustus established or confirmed conditions of service for his troops—sixteen years for the legionaries (plus a further four years as a reservist), twelve years for the praetorians. However, it proved impossible to maintain this system, through shortage of recruits and the expense of discharge payments, and in ad 5 service was increased to 20 years (with probably five as a reservist) for legionaries, and sixteen for praetorians. But the mutineers in Pannonia and Lower Germany (ad 14) claimed that men were kept on long after their time, for 30 or 40 years. Sailors in the fleets served for 26 years, auxiliary soldiers for 25, and by the mid‐1st cent. the service time had been set at 25 years for legionaries.

Pay scales from Domitian to Septimius Severus (in denarii):See armies, roman.


Subjects: Classical Studies.

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