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Title: Fleets and manpower on land and sea : the Italian "classes" and the Roman Empire 31 BC - AD 193
Author: Hopkins, Lloyd David Charles
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 3583
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis re-evaluates the nature and roles of the Italian classes (fleets) of the Roman empire between 31 BC and AD 193. Studied through the prism of naval history, the classes have been portrayed either as ineffective forces left to decay, or maritime institutions supporting military logistics. By starting from the position that the classes cannot easily be compared to other fleets, I argue that they should be regarded as a flexible manpower pool, placed in the same broad category as other soldiers in the Roman empire, who were drawn upon to perform a range of tasks on land and sea to the benefit of the Emperor, and who were integrated into systems supporting the functioning of the empire, which I term imperial organics. Chapter One discusses primarily epigraphic evidence for the classis servicemen, to argue that they considered themselves and were considered as milites who were trained to row, and who could be given tasks suitable to their abilities and places of deployment. Chapter Two, building on earlier discussion of the origins of the servicemen, examines second century AD papyrological evidence for recruitment from the Egpytian Fayoum. It posits recruitment systems which relied on several elements outside the control of Roman authorities, but which nonetheless ensured that the Italian classes were a well supplied manpower pool, perhaps because they did not rely on the so-called gens de mer. Chapter Three re-examines the main “naval bases” of the classes at Misenum and Ravenna, arguing that rather than purely military ports they should be understood as sites concentrating imperial resources to aid imperial activity in regions where concentrations of imperial property are attested. Drawing on arguments in the previous chapters, Chapter Four considers three case-studies for the functions of the Italian classes: their role in Roman military mobilisation and redeployment systems, their involvement in imperial communications, and their possible place in a coastal system on the western coast of Italy suggestive of imperial authority and benefaction. In all three it seeks to present evidence for imperial organics, low-level systems, possibly engendered by imperial activity, but which could persist of their own accord and which were essential to the workings of empire.
Supervisor: Purcell, Nicholas; Prag, Jonathan Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classics ; Ancient History ; Roman History ; Roman Empire ; Roman Navy ; Roman Government