This chapter discusses the war in imperial Rome. The legions in the Principate were highly protected assets, even during an aggressive advance. It is observed that tactical victory on one field did not offer Romans control of the area. Few Roman opponents benefitted from the relatively infrequent battle, even when they picked the ground, often choosing hillsides for gathering momentum. Romans were only defeated by their own former auxiliaries who had broken their camp. Roman military deployment on the northern frontiers had to deal with immigration control, refugee management, river patrol, and prevention of crimes against property. Romans largely obtained resilience and avoided collapse at the strategic level after a tactical or even grand tactical defeat through a synergistic interaction of factors including a military culture of adaptability to local tasks, unit cohesion, and prior success.
This chapter describes the status of war and society in the Roman Empire. The bias of the upper classes and fears of the lower are shown. The influences of civil war and rebellion could be profound in the Roman Empire. Any army is designed to fight wars, surely in a militaristic society such as Rome. Soldiers were employed in a range of activities in support of local administrative officials. Their internal administrative duties included their role in the collection of taxes. The army also had direct demands in terms of food supply, equipment and weapons, and their transport and delivery, but also indirectly in that the presence of soldiers naturally provided trading opportunities for provincial inhabitants. In general, the Roman soldiers were at the center of both the physical and societal fabric of the provinces of the empire.