Winning ʻHearts and Minds’?
: The Roman Army in the Eastern Provinces under the Principate (27 BCE - 284 CE)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


My thesis investigates whether the Roman authorities had any policies or practices in employing and deploying their armed forces to win the hearts and minds of the population in the eastern provinces under the Principate (27 BCE - 284 CE) as kind of military strategy for exploiting their human and material resources to confront the Arsacid - Sassanid empire.
Chapter 1 explains this aim with reference to previous scholarship.
In chapter 2, I update and review the data for the provenance of soldiers. I argue that the hypothesis of increasing ʻlocalisation’ in the pattern of recruiting soldiers is wrong. Military units in the eastern provinces always depended largely on the recruits from Italy, Africa and the Danube, as well as from the other eastern provinces.
Chapter 3 investigates the processes of recruitment and veteran settlement, and argues that the Romans had a strategic aim to strengthen social integration between soldiers and civilians. This is supported by a case study of the Roman garrison at Syene in Egypt.
Chapter 4 argues that the logistics system of the Roman armed forces and their military presence within or near urban areas did not hinder the economic growth of the eastern provinces. The Roman government took action against the abuse of requisitions. As in the West, Roman military occupation brought some economic benefit.
Chapter 5 shows the changing image of Roman soldiers in imperial Greek literature from invaders to guardians. Greek elites began to view themselves as part of the empire and to distinguish between insiders (Romans) and outsiders (barbarians). Provincials thought of Roman soldiers as more effective and reliable than their municipal police.
Chapter 6 argues that, as part of their military strategy, the Romans used the propaganda that their emperor was a Roman Alexander who confronted the Parthian threat to protect his subjects in the East. This seems to have had some success in uniting the various eastern nations to support and serve in Rome’s military domination of their territories.
All these actions would have been impossible without a strategic intention to win the hearts and minds of the population in the eastern provinces
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorDominic Rathbone (Supervisor) & John Pearce (Supervisor)

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