For the empire, for each other: The motivations of auxiliaries in antiquity and the Great War

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University of New Brunswick


This thesis explores combat motivation among ancient Roman auxiliaries and members of the Indian Expeditionary Force D during the First World War. This study is an intellectual exercise that analyzes literature from psychology, ancient history, and modern history, supplemented by primary sources pertaining to the ancient and modern subject group. This thesis considers the impact of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors on combat motivation. This study shows that there are parallels in the motivations of the ancient auxiliaries and the modern IEF in terms of group cohesion, internalized martial identities, and economic benefits, but differences in terms of political benefits. The prospect of citizenship appears to have motivated ancient auxiliary recruitment, while the impact of political benefits appears unclear in the context of the IEF. This study shows that interdisciplinary studies of combat motivation can expand scholarly inquiries into new territory and can lead to new discussions.