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Posts Tagged ‘Roman Army’

"Your sommelier"

“Local postmaster?”

What makes this special is that the letter was written by a Roman soldier to his family in Egypt, over 1,800 years ago:

A newly deciphered letter home dating back around 1,800 years reveals the pleas of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe.

In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them and that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see them.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: “I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind,” it reads.

“I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you …” (Part of the letter hasn’t survived.)

(The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion’s family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion’s family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it, entrusting the veteran instead.)

Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response, suggesting some sort of family tensions.

Change the religious and other references to modern-day terms, and this letter could have been written by a worried American anywhere around the world. I’ve often said that people haven’t changed all that much since civilization began around 6,000 years ago, and I think this letter is more evidence of that. Though the letter apparently reached his family (it was discovered in the ruins of a Roman-era Egyptian village), there’s nothing to indicate if Aurelius Polion ever heard back.

I’d like to think he eventually did get that letter from home.

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It’s been quite a while since I posted anything. Sorry about that, but, if I don’t find myself interesting, why should I think anyone else does?

Anyway, it’s time for an update on the “no new book purchases until I’ve read ten that I have” pledge I made to control my biblioholism.  I’ve just finished the fourth, Goldsworthy’s Roman Warfare. It’s a good survey of the development of Rome’s army (the navy was, except for the First Punic War and the war with the pirates, negligible) from the city’s foundation through the 6th century. A short work at just a couple of hundred pages, it’s necessarily shallow, but Dr. Goldsworthy does a good job of presenting his main themes. I recommend for anyone interested in Roman History.

Oh, book number three was Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, also highly recommended to the astute reader.

Next up … I don’t know really. We’ll see what catches my eye on the shelf.

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