Self just loves writing that name so much: Mary Beard. Mary Beard.
It’s a wonderful name for a writer. Maybe if self was a man, she would still like to be called Mary Beard.
Anyhoo, in SPQR, Mary Beard tells us that the Imperial Roman Army was divided into centuries (So that’s where that word comes from!). These centuries were not all equal: even the rich served, so in the army the top “eighty centuries of men” were from “the richest, first class, who fought in a full kit of heavy bronze armour.”
Following these were four more centuries, “wearing progressively lighter armour” (“the richer you are, the more substantial and expensive equipment you can provide for yourself”).
The lowest class of centuries “fought with just slings and stones.”
The “very poorest . . . were entirely exempt from military service.”
Would the reasoning go something like: The rich have the most to lose, so they would make the best warriors. The poorest class have nothing to lose, so we can’t trust them to defend the motherland with the same determination (Plus, if they can’t afford their own armor, the poor things would be killed quite handily)
Thinking of the modern-day American Army, it is an all-volunteer Army. No rich man needs to fight. Neither do the children of the rich.
You will see that certain states are more well-represented than others. Such as, for instance, West Virginia. Most people who sign up for the Army do so because they can’t afford to pay for college on their own; if they sign up, the Army will pay for college. So, they take their chances.
(Self has seen recruiting stations in malls in Daly City and South San Francisco, NEVER in Palo Alto, Cupertino, Menlo Park, etc etc Not even in downtown San Francisco. Need you ask why?)
This organization had a parallel in the voting structure (At least Imperial Rome recognized the vote!): Each century had just one block vote (like our American electoral college): “If they stuck together , the eighty centuries of the richest, first class . . . could outvote all the other classes put together . . . The richest citizens were far fewer in number than the poor, but they were divided among eighty centuries, as against the twenty or thirty for the more populous lower classes, or the single century for the mass of the very poorest.”