Natione Ponticus: Roman Navy Soldiers and the Black Sea
Speidel, Michael Alexander
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A small number of Latin inscriptions on gravestones of Roman navy soldiers qualify the deceased as natione Ponticus . Theodor Mommsen believed that such designations were part of an empire-wide paern that reveals feelings of ethnic belonging and disregards Roman administrative geography. Similarly, a recently published theory holds that soldiers chose the way in which they indicated their homes with regard to how they felt about their places of origin, and that therefore such designations conveyed sentiments of identity. Accordingly, individuals describing themselves as natione Ponticus ought to have felt particularly strong about their ‘Pontic’ identity. However, the paern that emerges from the surviving evidence suggests that the expression natione Ponticus rooted in the Roman naval force’s administrative practices. It nevertheless remained ambiguous and lent itself to ‘misunderstandings’.
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