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date: 22 September 2023

sacramentum (military)locked

sacramentum (military)locked

  • George Ronald Watson
  •  and Antony Spawforth


Sacramentum (military), the oath of allegiance, sworn on attestation by a Roman recruit; the most strictly observed of all Roman oaths according to *Dionysius (7) of Halicarnassus. Its content stressed obedience to the consuls or commanding officers and good discipline (Dion. Hal., Ant. Rom. 11.43; 10. 18); in the mid-2nd cent. bce the tribunes administered it (Polyb. 6. 21. 2). After the reforms of C. *Marius (1) soldiers swore the oath to their general, and it took on a personal hue (e.g. Plut. Sull. 27. 3), thus encouraging the personal armies of the late Republic. From *Augustus loyalty was sworn to the emperor, before the standards (Tac.Ann. 15. 29); the oath was renewed annually on New Year's Day or the anniversary of the emperor's accession (Tac.Hist. 1. 55; Plin.Ep. 10. 60). In the Christian empire soldiers swore much the same oath but by God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost (Vegetius 2. 5). See oaths.


  • Christianity
  • Roman History and Historiography

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