Ritual, Narrative, and Trauma: Considering the Socio-Psychological Significance of Roman Martial Rituals
Lil, A.J. van
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The Roman conduct of war appears to have been a ritualized affair. This thesis is concerned with unfolding this ritual pattern and discussing the socio-psychological significance this may have held for the Roman soldier at war. It investigates the various rituals that the soldier would have been witness or participant of: the lustratio, auspicium, devotio hostium, and passum sub iugum. The comparative analysis and source collection of these rituals may already offer new insights. Its Republican chronological scope results from this. Literary sources form the primary focus of this approach, intermittently supported by the disciplines of archaeology, numismatics, and epigraphy. Accordingly, it attempts to position these rituals in the course of warfare, as it would feature for the soldier. From the vantage point of trauma studies and the principle of narrative understanding, this thesis offers an alternative interpretation of the significance ritual may have had for the Roman soldier’s experience of battle. Thereby, it explores new avenues of study to the experience of ritual and battle. This thesis argues that the various rituals that featured in the preamble and summation of battle had significant potential to shape the individual’s anticipation, experience, and memory of the event. The rituals that the soldier would be witness or participant of, aided him in the creation of a meaningful narrative of events, thereby having the potential to offer psychological relief.