Greek Soldiers On Campagin

Informal Units
Within these formal units were the smaller groups of messmates, "one who lives in the same tent", the suskenos. The individuals within the group called each other suskenoi or sussitoi, meaning messmates.

These informal communities of suskenia were as important to soldiers as their lochos or taxis. But generally a suskenia of 10 to 15 men was not an official creation and members might come from different regiments and troop types.

However in Sparta and Crete they were formal institutions, with social and military functions. Members dressed alike and had to make regular ration contributions.

Informal mercenary or militia suskenia were based on friendship, family ties or erotic connections. Slave or helot attendants would help the group function. Its prime role was to collectively forage, cook and eat around the focus of a camp fire. Their informal nature must have meant suskenia changed, merged or died out over time. But the camp fire must have being key to its size and organisation. Too large a group meant two fires and a probable split.

More slaves allowed bigger fires and more organised cooking. But the group would have had to provide its members with food but also medical care and replacement equipment. They may have shared tents, a mule and slave attendants. They would share money, rations, loot, fire wood, extra clothing and gear. And they looked after each other, in this life and the next.

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