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The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the
Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the (historiographically known as the ). It i ...

Roman army
, composed of 4,200 infantry and 300
equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
(cavalry) in the period of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to 509 BC) and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the , Rome's control rapidly expanded durin ...
(509 BC–27 BC); and was composed of 5,200 infantry and 120
auxilia The lat, Auxilia (: , lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen by after his reorganisation of the from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions ...
in the period of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
(27 BC – AD 1453)


Size

The size of a typical legion varied throughout the history of ancient Rome, with complements of 4,200 legionaries and 300
equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
(drawn from the wealthier classes – in early Rome all troops provided their own equipment) in the republican period of Rome (the infantry were split into 10 cohorts each of four maniples of 120 legionaries), to 5,200 men plus 120 auxiliaries in the imperial period (split into 10 cohorts, nine of 480 men each, plus the first cohort holding 800 men). In the early
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilis ...
''legion'' may have meant the entire
Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the (historiographically known as the ). It i ...

Roman army
, but sources on this period are few and unreliable. The subsequent organization of legions varied greatly over time but legions were typically composed of around five thousand soldiers. During much of the republican era, a legion was divided into three lines, each of ten '' maniples''. In the late republic and much of the imperial period (from about 100 BC), a legion was divided into ten cohorts, each of six (or five) centuries. Legions also included a small '' ala'', or cavalry unit. By the third century AD, the legion was a much smaller unit of about 1,000 to 1,500 men, and there were more of them. In the fourth century AD,
East Roman The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...
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legions (''
limitanei The ''līmitāneī'' (Latin, also called ''rīpēnsēs''), meaning respectively "the soldiers in frontier districts" (from the Latin phrase limes (Roman Empire), līmēs, meaning a military district of a frontier province) or "the soldiers on the ...

limitanei
'') may have become even smaller. In terms of organisation and function, the republican era legion may have been influenced by the ancient Greek and Macedonian
phalanx The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular In Euclidean plane geometry, a rectangle is a quadrilateral A quadrilateral is a polygon in Euclidean geometry, Euclidean plane geometry with four Edge ...

phalanx
.


Function and constitution

For most of the Roman Imperial period, the legions formed the Roman army's elite
heavy infantry Heavy infantry consisted of heavily armed and armoured infantrymen who were trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a battle line. This differentiated them from light infantry Light infantry is a designa ...
, recruited exclusively from Roman citizens, while the remainder of the army consisted of
auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military or police but are organised differently from such forces. Auxiliary may be volunteers undertaking support functions or performing certain duties such as garrison troops, usually on a part-time bas ...
, who provided additional infantry and the vast majority of the Roman army's cavalry. (Provincials who aspired to
citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and th ...
gained it when honourably discharged from the
auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military or police but are organised differently from such forces. Auxiliary may be volunteers undertaking support functions or performing certain duties such as garrison troops, usually on a part-time bas ...
.) The Roman army, for most of the Imperial period, consisted mostly of auxiliaries rather than legions.


Longevity

Many of the legions founded before 40 BC were still active until at least the fifth century, notably
Legio V Macedonica Gallienus to celebrate the V ''Macedonica'', whose symbol, the eagle, is crowned of wrath by Victoria. The legend on the reverse says LEG V MAC VI P VI F, which means "Legio V Macedonica VI times faithful VI times loyal" Image:Sestertius Phil ...

Legio V Macedonica
, which was founded by
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
in 43 BC and was in Egypt in the seventh century during the
Islamic conquest of Egypt The Muslim conquest of Egypt by the Arabs took place between 639 and 646 AD and was overseen by the Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, ') was the first of the four major ca ...
.


Overview of typical organization and strength

Because legions were not permanent units until the
Marian reforms 150px, Gaius Marius The Marian reforms were reforms of the ancient Roman army The Roman army (Latin language, Latin: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of Ancient Rome, from the Roman Kingdom (to c. 500 BC) ...
(c. 107 BC), and were instead created, used, and disbanded again, several hundred legions were named and numbered throughout Roman history. To date, about 50 have been identified. The republican legions were composed of levied men that paid for their own equipment. At any time there would be four consular legions (with command divided between the two ruling consuls) and in time of war extra legions could be levied. Toward the end of the 2nd century BC, Rome started to experience manpower shortages brought about by property and financial qualifications to join the army. This prompted consul
Gaius Marius Gaius Marius (; – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the and wars, he held the office of an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his of . He set the precedent for the shift fro ...
to remove property qualifications and decree that all citizens, regardless of their wealth or social class, were made eligible for service in the Roman army with equipment and rewards for fulfilling 6 years of service provided by the state. The Roman army became a volunteer, professional and standing army which extended service beyond Roman citizens but also to non-citizens who could sign on as ''auxillia'' (auxiliaries) and were rewarded
Roman citizenship Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its ci ...
upon completion of service and all the rights and privileges that entailed. In the time of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, there were nearly 50 upon his succession but this was reduced to about 25–35 permanent standing legions and this remained the figure for most of the empire's history.


Evolution

The legion evolved from 3,000 men in the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to 509 BC) and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the , Rome's control rapidly expanded durin ...
to over 5,200 men in the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, consisting of
centuries A century is a period of 100 year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the course of a year sees the passing of the season ...
as the basic units. Until the middle of the first century, ten cohorts (about 500 men) made up a Roman legion. This was later changed to nine cohorts of standard size (with six centuries at 80 men each) with the first
cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value * Cohort (military unit), ...
being of double strength (five double-strength centuries with 160 men each). By the fourth century AD, the legion was a much smaller unit of about 1,000 to 1,500 men, and there were more of them. This had come about as the large formation legion and auxiliary unit, 10,000 men, was broken down into smaller units - originally temporary detachments - to cover more territory. In the fourth century AD,
East Roman The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...
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legions (''
limitanei The ''līmitāneī'' (Latin, also called ''rīpēnsēs''), meaning respectively "the soldiers in frontier districts" (from the Latin phrase limes (Roman Empire), līmēs, meaning a military district of a frontier province) or "the soldiers on the ...

limitanei
'') may have become even smaller. In terms of organisation and function, the Republican era legion may have been influenced by the ancient Greek and Macedonian
phalanx The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular In Euclidean plane geometry, a rectangle is a quadrilateral A quadrilateral is a polygon in Euclidean geometry, Euclidean plane geometry with four Edge ...

phalanx
.


History


Roman kings (to c. 500 BC)

In the period before the raising of the ''legio'' and the early years of the Roman Kingdom and the Republic, forces are described as being organized into ''
centuries A century is a period of 100 year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the course of a year sees the passing of the season ...
'' of roughly one hundred men. These centuries were grouped together as required and answered to the leader who had hired or raised them. Such independent organization persisted until the 2nd century BC amongst light infantry and cavalry, but was discarded completely in later periods with the supporting role taken instead by allied troops. The roles of century leader (later formalized as a
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army during classical antiquity, nominally the commander of a centuria, century (), a military unit of aro ...

centurion
),
second in command {{unreferenced, date=May 2007 Second-in-command (2i/c or 2IC) is a title denoting that the holder of the title is the second-highest authority within a certain organisation. In the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land w ...

second in command
and
standard bearer Image:Diadobombero-parana.jpg, 200px, Standard-bearer of Firefighters Corps of Paraná State, Brazil. File:Team USA at 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony 2.jpg, 200px, Team USA marches in the parade of athletes around BC Place stadium during th ...
are referenced in this early period. Rome's early period is undocumented and shrouded in myths, but those myths tell that during the rule of
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
, the
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...

census
(from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
: ''censeō'' – accounting of the people) was introduced. With this all Roman able-bodied, property-owning male citizens were divided into five classes for military service based on their wealth and then organized into centuries as sub-units of the greater Roman army or ''legio'' (multitude). Joining the army was both a duty and a distinguishing mark of Roman citizenship; during the entire pre-Marian period the wealthiest land owners performed the most years of military service. These individuals would have had the most to lose should the state have fallen.


Roman Republic (509–107 BC)

At some point, possibly in the beginning of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to 509 BC) and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the , Rome's control rapidly expanded durin ...
after the kings were overthrown, the ''legio'' was subdivided into two separate legions, each one ascribed to one of the two
consuls A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
. In the first years of the Republic, when warfare was mostly concentrated on raiding, it is uncertain if the full manpower of the legions was summoned at any one time. In 494 BC, when three foreign threats emerged, the dictator
Manius Valerius Maximus Manius Valerius Maximus was Roman dictator in 494 BC during the First secessio plebis in 494 BC, first secession of the plebs. His brothers were Publius Valerius Publicola and Marcus Valerius Volusus. They were said to be the sons of Valerius Vo ...
raised ten legions which
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
says was a greater number than had been raised previously at any one time. Also, some warfare was still conducted by Roman forces outside the legionary structure, the most famous example being the campaign in 479 BC by the clan army of gens Fabia against the Etruscan city of Veii (in which the clan was annihilated). Legions became more formally organized in the 4th century BC, as Roman warfare evolved to more frequent and planned operations, and the consular army was raised to two legions each. In the Republic, legions had an ephemeral existence. Except for Legio I to IV, which were the consular armies (two per consul), other units were levied by campaign. Rome's Italian allies were required to provide approximately ten cohorts (auxilia were not organized into legions) to support each Roman Legion. In the middle of the Republic, legions were composed of the following units: * ''
Equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
'' (cavalry): The
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via O ...

cavalry
was originally the most prestigious unit, where wealthy young Roman men displayed their skill and prowess, laying the foundation for an eventual political career. Cavalry equipment was purchased by each of the cavalrymen and consisted of a round shield, helmet, body armour, sword and one or more
lance A lance is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

lance
s. The cavalry was outnumbered in the legion. In a total of ''circa'' 3,000 men, (plus the velites that normally enlarged the number to about 4,200), the legion only had around 300 horsemen, divided into 10 units (''
turma A ''turma'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
e'') of 30 men. These men were commanded by decurions. In addition to heavy cavalry, there would be the light cavalry levied from poor citizens and wealthy young citizens not old enough to be in the ''hastati'' or the ''equites''. In battle, they were used to disrupt and outflank enemy infantry formations and to fight off enemy cavalry. In the latter type of engagement, they would often (though not always) dismount some or all of the horsemen to fight a stationary battle on foot, an unusual tactic for the time, but one that offered significant advantages in stability and agility in a time before
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
s. * ''
Velites ''Velites'' (singular: ) were a class of infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, dist ...
'' (
light infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers () throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or or a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as or . Historically, light infantry ...
): The ''velites'' were mainly poorer citizens who could not afford to equip themselves properly. Their primary function was to act as
skirmishers Skirmishers are light infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers (infantry) throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or Weapon, armament or a more mobile or fluid function than other typ ...
– javelin-throwers, who would engage the enemy early in order either to harass them or to cover the movement of troops behind them. After throwing their javelins, they would retreat through the gaps between the maniples, screened from the attack of the enemy by the heavy infantry lines. With the shortage of cavalry in the army of the early to mid Republican army, the
velites ''Velites'' (singular: ) were a class of infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, dist ...
were also used as scouts. They did not have a precise formal organization or formation. *
Heavy infantry Heavy infantry consisted of heavily armed and armoured infantrymen who were trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a battle line. This differentiated them from light infantry Light infantry is a designa ...
: This was the principal unit of the legion. The heavy infantry was composed of citizen legionaries that could afford the equipment composed of an iron helmet, shield, armour and
pilum The ''pilum'' (; plural ''pila'') was a javelin (weapon), javelin commonly used by the Roman army in ancient times. It was generally about long overall, consisting of an iron shank about in diameter and long with a pyramidal head. The shank wa ...

pilum
, a heavy javelin whose range was about 30 meters. After the Second Punic War, the preferred weapon for the hastati and principes was the
gladius ''Gladius'' () is a Latin word meaning "sword" (of any type), but in its narrow sense, it refers to the sword of Ancient Rome, ancient Roman foot soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those of the Greeks, called ''xiphos, xiphe'' ( ...

gladius
, a short sword. Their hobnailed sandals (''
caligae Caligae (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
'') were also an effective weapon against a fallen enemy. Prior to the Marian reforms (see below), the heavy infantry was subdivided, according to experience, into three separate lines of troops: ** The ''
hastati ''Hastati'' (singular: ''Hastatus'') were a class of infantry employed in the armies of the early Roman Republic who originally fought as spear A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head ma ...
'' (sing. ''hastatus'') consisted of raw or inexperienced soldiers, considered to be less reliable than legionaries of several years' service. The Hastati were placed at the front for several reasons. One reason is the city of Rome could ill-afford to lose experienced soldiers, so they put the greenest soldiers at the front. If they survived, the Hastati/tus would gain invaluable experience. Another reason is if the newest soldiers succumbed to battle nerves and broke and tried to run, then there were experienced soldiers behind them to stiffen their resolve. ** The ''
principes ''Principes'' (Singular: ''princeps'') were spearmen A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict damage ...
'' (sing. ''princeps'') These were the more experienced soldiers, often better equipped than the Hastati, and having more experience on the battlefield, they would take up the second line in the battle in the event the Hastati failed or fled. They were the second wave in an early Republican Legion before the military reforms of Marius. ** The ''
triarii ''Triarii'' (singular: ''Triarius'') were one of the elements of the early Roman military Maniple (military unit), manipular legions of the early Roman Republic (509 BC – 107 BC). They were the oldest and among the wealthiest men in the army an ...
'' (sing. ''triarius'') were the veteran soldiers, to be used in battle only in extreme situations; they rested one knee down when not engaged in combat. The ''triarii'' served primarily as reserves or
barrier troopsBarrier troops, blocking units, or anti-retreat forces were military units that were located in the rear or on the front line (behind the main forces) to maintain military discipline, prevent the flight of servicemen from the battlefield, capture spi ...
designed to backstop the ''hastati'' and ''principes'', and were equipped with long '' hastae'' (spears) rather than the ''pilum'' and ''gladius'' (the ''hastati'' and ''principes'' stopped using spears in 387 BC). Thus armed, they fought in a
phalanx formation The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular mass military tactical formation, formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pike (weapon), pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weap ...
. The sight of an advancing armored formation of ''triarii'' legionaries frequently discouraged exultant enemies in pursuit of retreating ''hastati'' and ''principes'' troops. ''Ad triarios redisse'' – ''To fall back upon the triarii'' was a Roman
idiom An idiom is a phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words which act together as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the adjective phra ...
– meaning to use one's last resort. Each of these three lines was subdivided into (usually 10) chief tactical units called maniples. A maniple consisted of two
centuries A century is a period of 100 year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the course of a year sees the passing of the season ...
and was commanded by the senior of the two
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army during classical antiquity, nominally the commander of a centuria, century (), a military unit of aro ...

centurion
s. At this time, each century of hastati and principes consisted of 60 men; a century of triarii was 30 men. These 3,000 men (twenty maniples of 120 men, and ten maniples of 60 men), together with about 1,200 velites and 300 cavalry gave the mid Republican ("manipular") legion a nominal strength of about 4,500 men.


Late Republic (107–30 BC)

''See also
List of Roman legions This is a list of Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the , composed of 4,200 infantry and 300 (cavalry) in the period of the (509 BC–27 BC); and was composed of 5,200 infantry and 120 in the ...
for details of notable late Republican legions''
''See also Sub-Units of the Roman legion'' The Marian reforms (of Gaius Marius) enlarged the centuries to 80 men, and grouped them into six-century "cohorts" (rather than two-century maniples). Each century had its own standard and was made up of ten units (''contubernia'') of eight men who shared a tent, a millstone, a mule and
cooking pot Cookware and bakeware are food preparation vessels used in kitchen A typical Hoosier cabinet of the 1920s A kitchen is a room or part of a room used for cooking Cooking or cookery is the art, science, and craft of using heat to Outline ...
. Following the reforms of the general Marius in the 2nd century BC, the legions took on the second, narrower meaning that is familiar in the popular imagination as close-order citizen heavy infantry. At the end of the 2nd century BC,
Gaius Marius Gaius Marius (; – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the and wars, he held the office of an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his of . He set the precedent for the shift fro ...
reformed the previously ephemeral legions as a professional force drawing from the poorest classes, enabling Rome to field larger armies and providing employment for jobless citizens of the city of Rome. However, this put the loyalty of the soldiers in the hands of their general rather than the State of Rome itself. This development ultimately enabled
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
to cross the
Rubicon The Rubicon ( la, Rubico; it, Rubicone ; rgn, Rubicôn ) is a shallow river in northeastern Italy, just north of Rimini. It was known as Fiumicino until 1933, when it was identified with the ancient river Rubicon, Crossing the Rubicon, famous ...

Rubicon
with an army loyal to him personally and effectively end the Republic. The legions of the late Republic and early Empire are often called ''Marian'' legions. Following the
Battle of Vercellae The Battle of Vercellae, or Battle of the Raudine Plain, was fought on 30 July 101 BC on a plain near Vercellae in Gallia Cisalpina (modern day Northern Italy). A Germanic-Celtic confederation under the command of the Cimbric king Boiorix was d ...
in 101 BC, Marius granted all Italian soldiers Roman citizenship. He justified this action to the Senate by saying that in the din of battle he could not distinguish Roman from ally. This effectively eliminated the notion of allied legions; henceforth all Italian legions would be regarded as Roman legions, and full Roman citizenship was open to all the regions of Italy. At the same time, the three different types of heavy infantry were replaced by a single, standard type based on the ''Principes'': armed with two heavy javelins called ''pila'' (singular ''
pilum The ''pilum'' (; plural ''pila'') was a javelin (weapon), javelin commonly used by the Roman army in ancient times. It was generally about long overall, consisting of an iron shank about in diameter and long with a pyramidal head. The shank wa ...

pilum
''), the short sword called ''gladius'', chain mail (''
lorica hamata Image:Lorica Hamata.jpg, Reconstruction of a Roman legionaryThe ''lorica hamata'' (in Latin with normal elision: ) is a type of mail (armour), mail armour used by soldiers for over 600 years (3rd century BC to 4th century AD) from the Roman Republ ...

lorica hamata
''), helmet and rectangular shield ('' scutum''). The role of allied legions would eventually be taken up by contingents of allied auxiliary troops, called ''Auxilia''. ''Auxilia'' contained specialist units, engineers and pioneers, artillerymen and craftsmen, service and support personnel and irregular units made up of non-citizens, mercenaries and local militia. These were usually formed into complete units such as light cavalry,
light infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers () throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or or a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as or . Historically, light infantry ...
or ''
velites ''Velites'' (singular: ) were a class of infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, dist ...
'', and labourers. There was also a
reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topogr ...

reconnaissance
squad In military terminology, a squad is amongst the smallest of military organizations and is led by a non-commissioned officer. NATO and US doctrine define a squad as an organization "larger than a fireteam, team, but smaller than a Section (military ...
of 10 or more light
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry at the Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the ...
called '' speculatores'' who could also serve as messengers or even as an early form of military intelligence service. As part of the Marian reforms, the legions' internal organization was standardized. Each legion was divided into '' cohorts''. Prior to this, cohorts had been temporary administrative units or tactical task forces of several maniples, even more transitory than the legions themselves. Now the cohorts were ten permanent units, composed of 6 centuries and in the case of the first cohort 5 double strength centuries each led by a centurion assisted by an ''
optio Roman Optio in a reenactment at Chesters Fort in May 2000 An , plural ( lat, italic=yes, optio, , from , "to choose", so-called because an was chosen by a centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κ ...

optio
''. The cohorts came to form the basic tactical unit of the legions. Ranking within the legion was based on length of service, with the senior Centurion commanding the first century of the first cohort; he was called the ''
primus pilus The ''Primus pilus'' or ''Primipilus'' was the senior centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin ...
'' (First Spear), and reported directly to the superior officers (legates and tribuni). All career soldiers could be promoted to the higher ranks in recognition of exceptional acts of bravery or valour. A newly promoted junior Centurion would be assigned to the sixth century of the tenth cohort and slowly progressed through the ranks from there. Every legion had a large baggage train, which included 640 mules (1 mule for every 8 legionaries) just for the soldiers' equipment. To keep these baggage trains from becoming too large and slow, Marius had each infantryman carry as much of his own equipment as he could, including his own armour, weapons and 15 days' rations, for about 25–30 kg (50–60 pounds) of load total. To make this easier, he issued each legionary a cross stick to carry their loads on their shoulders. The soldiers were nicknamed ''Marius' Mules'' because of the amount of gear they had to carry themselves. This arrangement allowed for the possibility for the supply train to become temporarily detached from the main body of the legion, thus greatly increasing the army's speed when needed. A typical legion of this period had 5,120 legionaries as well as a large number of camp followers, servants and slaves. Legions could contain as many as 11,000 fighting men when including the auxiliaries. During the Later Roman Empire, the legion was reduced in size to 1,000 to allow for easier provisioning and to expand the regions under surveillance. Numbers would also vary depending on casualties suffered during a campaign;
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
's legions during his campaign in Gaul often only had around 3,500 men. Tactics were not very different from the past, but their effectiveness was largely improved because of the professional training of the soldiers. After the Marian reforms and throughout the history of Rome's Late Republic, the legions played an important political role. By the 1st century BC, the threat of the legions under a
demagogue A demagogue (from Greek , a popular leader, a leader of a mob, from , people, populace, the commons + leading, leader) or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity by arousing the common people against elites, es ...
was recognized.
Governors A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (p ...
were not allowed to leave their provinces with their legions. When
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
broke this rule, leaving his province of Gaul and crossing the
Rubicon The Rubicon ( la, Rubico; it, Rubicone ; rgn, Rubicôn ) is a shallow river in northeastern Italy, just north of Rimini. It was known as Fiumicino until 1933, when it was identified with the ancient river Rubicon, Crossing the Rubicon, famous ...

Rubicon
into Italy, he precipitated a
constitutional crisis In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such a ...
. This crisis and the
civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publish ...
which followed brought an end to the Republic and led to the foundation of the
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and w ...

Empire
under
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
in 27 BC.


Early Empire (27 BC–AD 284)

''See List of Roman legions of the early Empire''
''See also Sub-Units of the Roman legion'' Generals, during the recent Republican civil wars, had formed their own legions and numbered them as they wished. During this time, there was a high incidence of ''Gemina'' (twin) legions, where two legions were consolidated into a single organization (and was later made official and put under a
legatus A ''legatus'' (Anglicisation, anglicised as legate) was a high-ranking Roman military officer in the Roman Army, equivalent to a modern high-ranking general officer. Initially used to delegate power, the term became formalised under Augustus as ...

legatus
and six duces). At the end of the civil war against
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
, Augustus was left with around fifty legions, with several double counts (multiple Legio Xs for instance). For political and economic reasons, Augustus reduced the number of legions to 28 (which diminished to 25 after the
Battle of Teutoburg Forest The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (, , or ), described as the Varian Disaster () by Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman peopl ...
, in which 3 legions were completely destroyed by the
Germanics The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spel ...
). Beside streamlining the army, Augustus also regulated the soldiers' pay. At the same time, he greatly increased the number of auxiliaries to the point where they were equal in number to the legionaries. He also created the
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
along with a permanent
navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...
where served the ''liberti'', or freed slaves. The legions also became permanent at this time, and not recruited for particular campaigns. They were also allocated to static bases with permanent ''
castra In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman people. Beginning ...

castra
legionaria'' (legionary fortresses). Augustus' military policies proved sound and cost effective, and were generally followed by his successors. These emperors would carefully add new legions, as circumstances required or permitted, until the strength of the standing army stood at around 30 legions (hence the wry remark of the philosopher
Favorinus Favorinus of Arelate (c. 80 – c. 160 AD) was an intersex Intersex people are individuals born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals that, according to the Office ...
that ''It is ill arguing with the master of 30 legions''). With each legion having 5,120 legionaries usually supported by an equal number of auxiliary troops (according to Tacitus), the total force available to a legion commander during the
Pax Romana The ''Pax Romana'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
probably ranged from 11,000 downwards, with the more prestigious legions and those stationed on hostile borders or in restive provinces tending to have more auxiliaries. By the time of the emperor
Severus Severus is the name of various historical and fictional figures, including: ;Emperors of the Roman empire *Septimius Severus (145–211), Roman emperor from 193 to 211 (rarely known as ''Severus I.'') *Severus Caracalla (188–217), Roman emperor f ...
, 193–211, the auxiliaries may have composed 55 to 60% of the army, 250,000 of 447,000. Some legions may have even been reinforced at times with units making the associated force near 15,000–16,000 or about the size of a modern
division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the result of mathematical division Military *Division (military), a formation typically consisting o ...
. Throughout the
imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...

imperial
era, the legions played an important political role. Their actions could secure the empire for a
usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of ...
or take it away. For example, the defeat of
Vitellius Aulus Vitellius (; ; 24 September 1522 December AD 69) was Roman emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December AD 69. Vitellius was proclaimed emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year ...
in the
Year of the Four Emperors The Year of the Four Emperors, AD 69 AD 69 (Roman numerals, LXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Galba, Augustu ...

Year of the Four Emperors
was decided when the legions chose to support
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
. In the empire, the legion was standardized, with symbols and an individual history where men were proud to serve. The legion was commanded by a ''
legatus A ''legatus'' (Anglicisation, anglicised as legate) was a high-ranking Roman military officer in the Roman Army, equivalent to a modern high-ranking general officer. Initially used to delegate power, the term became formalised under Augustus as ...

legatus
'' or ''legate''. Aged around thirty, he would usually be a senator on a three-year appointment. Immediately subordinate to the legate would be six elected ''military tribunes'' – five would be staff officers and the remaining one would be a noble heading for the Senate (originally this tribune commanded the legion). There would also be a group of officers for the medical staff, the engineers, record-keepers, the ''praefectus castrorum'' (commander of the camp) and other specialists such as priests and musicians.


Later Empire (from 284 AD)

In the Later Roman Empire, the number of legions was increased and the
Roman Army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...
expanded. There is no evidence to suggest that legions changed in form before the Tetrarchy, although there is evidence that they were smaller than the paper strengths usually quoted. The final form of the legion originated with the elite ''legiones palatinae'' created by Diocletian and the Tetrarchs. These were infantry units of around 1,000 men rather than the 5,000, including cavalry, of the old Legions. The earliest ''legiones palatinae'' were the ''Lanciarii'', ''Joviani'', ''Herculians, Herculiani'' and ''Divitenses''. The 4th century saw a very large number of new, small legions created, a process which began under Constantine II (emperor), Constantine II. In addition to the elite ''palatini (Roman military), palatini'', other legions called ''comitatenses'' and ''pseudocomitatenses'', along with the ''auxilia palatina'', provided the infantry of late Roman armies. The Notitia Dignitatum lists 25 ''legiones palatinae'', 70 ''legiones comitatenses'', 47 ''legiones pseudocomitatenses'' and 111 ''auxilia palatina'' in the field armies, and a further 47 ''legiones'' in the frontier armies. Legion names such as ''Honorius (emperor), Honoriani'' and ''Gratianenses'' found in the Notitia suggest that the process of creating new legions continued through the 4th century rather than being a single event. The names also suggest that many new legions were formed from ''vexillationes'' or from old legions. In addition, there were 24 vexillationes palatini, 73 vexillationes comitatenses; 305 other units in the Eastern limitanei and 181 in the Western limitanei. A rare instance of apparent direct continuity between the legions of the early Empire and those of the post-6th century army was ''Legion V Macedonica''; created in 43 BC, recorded in the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' as a ''legione comitatense'' under the title of ''Quinta Macedonica'' and surviving in Egypt until the Arab conquest of 637 AD. According to the late Roman writer Vegetius' ''De Re Militari'', each century had a ballista and each cohort had an Onager (siege weapon), onager, giving the legion a formidable siege train of 59 Ballistae and 10 Onagers, each manned by 10 ''libritors'' (artillerymen) and mounted on wagons drawn by oxen or mules. In addition to attacking cities and fortifications, these would be used to help defend Roman forts and fortified camps (
castra In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman people. Beginning ...

castra
) as well. They would even be employed on occasion, especially in the later Empire, as field artillery during battles or in support of river crossings. Despite a number of organisational changes, the Legion system survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It was continued within the Eastern Roman Empire until the 7th century, when reforms begun by Emperor Heraclius to supply the increasing need for soldiers resulted in the Theme system. Despite this, the Eastern Roman/Byzantine armies continued to be influenced by the earlier Roman legions, and were maintained with similar levels of discipline, strategic prowess, and organization.


Legionary ranks

Aside from the rank and file legionary (who received the base wage of 10 as (coin), assēs a day or 225 denarius, denarii a year), the following list describes the system of officers which developed within the legions from the Marian reforms (104 BC) until the military reforms of Diocletian#Economic and military reforms, Diocletian (c. 290). Despite attempts at equivocation legionary ranks have no modern parallel. Centurions are traditionally seen as officers; and, when viewed in modern terms, their method of promotion and manner of office is distinctly Non-commissioned officer, non-commissioned. There is a story of one Centurion, Petronius Fortunatus, making rank in four years, then spending the next forty-two years in twelve different legions never once serving in the primi ordines. It is best not to overlay modern rank over legionary rank, to do so is to invite confusion and ambiguity. Modern militaries promote upwards, Legions promote laterally.


Senior officers

* ''Legatus Augusti pro praetore'', Imperial Legate: The commander of two or more legions. The Imperial Legate also served as the Roman governor, governor of the province in which the legions he commanded were stationed. Of Roman Senate, Senatorial rank, the Imperial Legate was appointed by the Emperor and usually held command for 3 or 4 years. * ''Legatus legionis'', Legion Legate: The overall legion commander. The post was usually filled by a Roman Senate, senator, appointed by the emperor, who held command for 3 or 4 years, although he could serve for a much longer period. In a Roman province with only one legion, the legatus was also the provincial Roman governor, governor. In such circumstances, the Legatus was dual-hatted as both Legion Legate and Imperial Legate. The Legion Legate also served as commander of the Auxiliaries (Roman military), auxiliary units attached to the legion though they were not formally a part of the legion's command structure. * ''Military tribune, Tribunus laticlavius'', Broad Band Tribune: Named for the broad striped tunic worn by men of senatorial rank, this tribune was appointed by the emperor or the Senate. Though generally young, he was more experienced than the tribuni angusticlavii, he served as second in command of the legion, behind the legate. Because of his age and inexperience he was not the actual second in command in battle, but if the legate died he would take command of the legion. * ''Praefectus castrorum'', Camp Prefect: The Camp Prefect was third in command of the legion. Generally he was a long serving veteran from a lower social status than the ''tribunii'' whom he outranked, and who previously had served as ''primus pilus'' and finished his 25 years with the legions. He was used as a senior officer in charge of training a legion, though he could also command a cohort of
auxilia The lat, Auxilia (: , lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen by after his reorganisation of the from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions ...
ires. * ''Military tribune, Tribuni angusticlavii'', Narrow Band Tribunes: Each legion had five lower ranking tribunes, who were normally from the equestrian class and had at least some years of prior military experience. They often served the role of administrative officers. This tribunate was often a first, but optional, step in a young man's political career (see cursus honorum).


Centurions

The rank of
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army during classical antiquity, nominally the commander of a centuria, century (), a military unit of aro ...

centurion
was an officer grade that included many ranks, meaning centurions had very good prospects for promotion. The most senior centurion in a legion was known as the ''
primus pilus The ''Primus pilus'' or ''Primipilus'' was the senior centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin ...
'' (first file or spear), who directly commanded the first century of the first
cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value * Cohort (military unit), ...
and commanded the whole first cohort when in battle. Within the second to tenth cohorts, the commander of each cohort's first century was known as a ''pilus prior'' and was in command of his entire cohort when in battle. The seniority of the pilus prior centurions was followed by the five other century commanders of the first cohort, who were known as ''primi ordines''. The six centuries of a normal cohort, were, in order of precedence: * The forward hastati (forward spears) * The rear hastati (rear spears) * The forward principes (forward principal line) * The rear principes (rear principal line) * The forward triarii (forward third line) * The rear triarii (rear third line) The centuries took their titles from the old use of the legion drawn up in three lines of battle using three classes of soldier. (Each century would then hold a cross-section of this theoretical line, although these century titles were now essentially nominal.) Each of the three lines is then sub-divided within the century into a more forward and a more rear century. * ''Primus pilus'', literally First File: The ''Primus Pilus'' was the commanding centurion of the first century, first cohort and the senior-most centurion of the entire legion. (Unlike other cohorts, the first cohort had only one javelin century, instead of a "front spear" and a "back spear" century.) The primus pilus had a chance of later becoming a ''Praefectus Castrorum''. When the primus pilus retired, he would most likely gain entry into the equestrian class. He was paid 60 times the base wage. Primus Pilus were also paid more than an average centurion and like a narrowband tribune. * ''Pilus prior'': The "front file" centurions were the commanders of the 10 1st centuries within the legion, making them senior centurions of their respective cohorts. While the legion was in battle formation, the Pilus Prior was given command of their entire cohort. The Primus Pilus was also a Pilus Prior, and the most senior of all the centurions within the legion. These positions were usually held by experienced veteran soldiers who had been moved up within the ranks. This rank is subordinate to the Primus Pilus. * ''Primi ordines'': The "ranks of the first [cohort]" were the five centurions of the first cohort, and included the primus pilus. They, excluding the primus pilus, were paid 30 times the base wage. This rank is senior to all other centurions, save the primus pilus and pilus prior. * ''Other centurions'': Each legion had 59 or 60 centurions, one to command each century of the 10 cohorts. They were the backbone of the professional army and were the career soldiers who ran the day-to-day life of the soldiers and issued commands in the field. They were generally moved up from the ranks, but in some cases could be direct appointments from the emperor or other higher-ranking officials. The cohorts were ranked from the first to the tenth and the century within each cohort ranked from 1 to 6, with only five centuries in the first cohort (for a total of 59 centurions and the primus pilus). The century that each centurion commanded was a direct reflection of his rank: command of the 1st century of the first cohort was the highest, and the 6th century of the 10th cohort was the lowest. Paid ten times the basic wage''.


Lower ranks

* ''Optio'': One for each centurion (59–60), they were appointed by the centurion from within the ranks to act as his second in command and were paid twice the basic wage. * ''Tesserarius'': (Guard commander) One for each century. They acted as seconds to the Optios and were paid one and a half times the basic wage. Keeper of the watchword, administrative assistant to HQ Staff, third in command of a century. These men fought as normal soldiers when the century they were attached to was not in the vanguard. * ''Decurion (military), Decurion'': Commanded a cavalry unit (''
turma A ''turma'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
'') of 10 to 30 ''eques legionis''.Caesar's Civil War, Adrian Goldsworthy
p. 20
/ref> * ''Decanus'': Commanded a ''Contubernium (Roman army unit), contubernium'' or ten men tent party, eight soldiers and two non-combatants. A group of four soldiers would be referred to as a Quaternion (disambiguation), Quaternion.


Special duty posts

* ''Aquilifer'': A single position within the legion. The aquilifer was the legion's Heraldic standard, standard– or Aquila (Roman), ''Aquila'' (eagle)– bearer and was an enormously important and prestigious position. Losing the aquila was considered the greatest dishonor a legion could endure. This post therefore had to be filled with steady veteran soldiers, with an excellent understanding of the tactics of the legion. He was paid twice the basic wage. * ''Signifer'': Each century had a ''signifer'' (thus, there were 59 in a legion) and within each cohort (military unit), cohort the 1st century's ''signifer'' would be the senior. He was standard-bearer for the ''centurial signum'', a spear shaft decorated with medallions and topped with an open hand to signify loyalty, which was a rallying point for the soldiers. In addition to carrying the ''signum'', the ''signifer'' also assumed responsibility for the financial administration of the unit and functioned as the legionaries' banker. He was paid twice the basic wage. * ''Cornicen'' (Horn blower): Worked hand in hand with the signifer drawing the attention of the men to the centurial signum and issuing the audible commands of the officers. He was paid twice the basic wage. * ''Imaginifer'': A special position from the time of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
onwards. Carried the standard bearing the image of the Emperor as a constant reminder of the troops' loyalty to him. He was paid twice the basic wage. * ''Immunes'': Immunes were legionary soldiers who possessed specialized skills, qualifying them for better pay and excusing them from labour and guard work. Engineers, artillerymen, musicians, clerks, quartermasters, drill and weapons instructors, carpenters, hunters, medical staff and military police were all immune soldiers. These men were still fully trained legionaries, however, and were called upon to serve in the battle lines when needed. * ''Evocatus'': A veteran of the Roman army who had earned his Roman military diploma, military diploma for military service, but had chosen to re-enlist. They received double pay and were excluded from regular duties, such as manual labour. * ''Duplicarius'': A special pay grade that could also be awarded regardless of rank, received double the basic pay.


Pay

From the time of
Gaius Marius Gaius Marius (; – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the and wars, he held the office of an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his of . He set the precedent for the shift fro ...
onwards, legionaries received 225 ''Denarius, denarii'' a year (equal to 900 Sestertius, ''Sestertii''); this basic rate remained unchanged until Domitian, who increased it to 300 denarii. In spite of the steady inflation during the 2nd century, there was no further rise until the time of Septimius Severus, who increased it to 500 denarii a year. However, the soldiers did not receive all the money in cash, as the state deducted a clothing and food tax from their pay. To this wage, a legionary on active campaign would hope to add the booty of war, from the bodies of their enemies and as plunder from enemy settlements. Slaves could also be claimed from the P.O.W., prisoners of war and divided amongst the legion for later sale, which would bring in a sizeable supplement to their regular pay. All legionary soldiers would also receive a ''praemia'' (veterans' benefits) on completion of their term of service of 25 years or more: a sizeable sum of money (3,000 ''denarii'' from the time of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
) and/or a plot of good Farming in ancient Rome, farmland (good land was in much demand); farmland given to veterans often helped in establishing control of the frontier regions and over rebellious provinces. Later, under Caracalla, the ''praemia'' increased to 5,000 ''denarii''.


Symbols

From 104 BC onwards, each legion used an aquila (Roman), aquila (eagle) as its standard symbol. The symbol was carried by an officer known as aquilifer, and its loss was considered to be a very serious embarrassment, and often led to the disbanding of the legion itself. Normally, this was because any legion incapable of regaining its eagle in battle was so severely mauled that it was no longer effective in combat. In ''Gallic War'' (Bk IV, Para. 25), Julius Caesar describes an incident at the start of his first invasion of Britain in 55 BC that illustrated how fear for the safety of the eagle could drive Roman soldiers. When Caesar's troops hesitated to leave their ships for fear of the Britons, the aquilifer of the Legio X Gemina, tenth legion threw himself overboard and, carrying the eagle, advanced alone against the enemy. His comrades, fearing disgrace, 'with one accord, leapt down from the ship' and were followed by troops from the other ships. With the birth of the Roman Empire, the legions created a bond with their leader, the emperor himself. Each legion had another officer, called imaginifer, whose role was to carry a pike with the ''imago'' (image, sculpture) of the emperor as ''pontifex maximus''. Each legion, furthermore, had a ''vexillifer'' who carried a vexillum or ''signum'', with the legion name and emblem depicted on it, unique to the legion. It was common for a legion to detach some sub-units from the main camp to strengthen other corps. In these cases, the detached subunits carried only the vexillum, and not the aquila, and were called, therefore, ''vexillationes''. A miniature vexillum, mounted on a silver base, was sometimes awarded to officers as a recognition of their service upon retirement or reassignment. Civilians could also be rewarded for their assistance to the Roman legions. In return for outstanding service, a citizen was given an arrow without a head. This was considered a great honour and would bring the recipient much prestige.


Discipline

The military discipline of the legions was quite harsh. Regulations were strictly enforced, and a broad array of punishments could be inflicted upon a legionary who broke them. Many legionaries became devotees in the cult of the minor goddess Disciplina, whose virtues of frugality, severity and loyalty were central to their code of conduct and way of life.


Minor punishments

* Castigatio – being hit by the centurion with his staff or ''animadversio fustium'' (Tac. Annals I, 23) * – ''Reduction of rations'' or to be forced to eat barley instead of the usual grain ration * Pecuniaria mulcta – Reduction in pay, fines or deductions from the pay allowance *– ''Flogging'' in front of the century, cohort or legion * – ''Whipping'' with the ''flagrum'' (''flagellum'', ''flagella''), or "short whip" – a much more brutal punishment than simple flogging. The "short whip" was used by slave volunteers, ''volones'', who constituted the majority of the army in the later years of the Roman Empire. * Gradus deiectio – Reduction in rank * Missio ignominiosa – Dishonourable discharge * – Loss of ''time in service'' advantages * Militiae mutatio – Relegation to inferior service or duties. * Munerum indictio – Additional duties


Major punishments

* ''Fustuarium'' – a sentence for desertion or dereliction of duty. The legionary would be stoned or beaten to death by cudgels, in front of the assembled troops, by his fellow soldiers or those whose lives had been put in danger. Soldiers under sentence of ''fustuarium'' who escaped were not pursued but lived under sentence of banishment from Rome. In the event that a group of legionaries are to be subjected to this punishment, the Tribune would make an alteration in order to spare the majority of the accused. The Tribune would first select a handful of the guilty men, and those selected would be condemned to the original penalty under the Fustuarium. The remainder of the accused would then be driven out of the camp and forced to live in an undefended location for a chosen period of time; they were also limited to eating only barley. * ''Decimation (Roman Army), Decimation'' – According to 17th century belief(possibly folk etymology), the Romans practiced this punishment in which a sentence was carried out against an entire unit that had mutinied, deserted, or shown dereliction of duty. One out of every ten men, chosen by lots, would be beaten to death, usually by the other nine with their bare hands, who would be forced to live outside the camp and in some instances obliged to renew the military oath, the ''Sacramentum (oath), sacramentum''.


Factors in the legion's success

Montesquieu wrote that "the main reason for the Romans becoming masters of the world was that, having fought successively against all peoples, they always gave up their own practices as soon as they found better ones." Examples of ideas that were copied and adapted include weapons like the
gladius ''Gladius'' () is a Latin word meaning "sword" (of any type), but in its narrow sense, it refers to the sword of Ancient Rome, ancient Roman foot soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those of the Greeks, called ''xiphos, xiphe'' ( ...

gladius
(Iberians) and warship design (cf. Carthaginians' quinquereme), as well as military units, such as cataphract, heavy mounted cavalry and horse archer, mounted archers (Numidians and Parthians). * Roman organization was more flexible than those of many opponents. Over time, the legions effectively handled challenges ranging from cavalry, to guerrillas, and to siege warfare. * Roman discipline (cf. decimation (Roman army)), organization and systematization sustained combat effectiveness over a longer period. These elements appear throughout the legion in training, logistics, field fortification etc. * The Romans were more persistent and more willing to absorb and replace losses over time than their opponents. Wars with Carthage and the Parthians and most notably, the campaigns against Pyrrhus of Epirus, illustrate this. * Roman leadership was mixed, but over time it was often effective in securing Roman military success. * The influence of Roman military and civic culture, as embodied particularly in the heavy infantry legion, gave the Roman military consistent motivation and cohesion. * Strict, and more importantly, uniform discipline made commanding, maintaining, and replacing Roman legionaries a much more consistent exercise. * Roman military equipment (cf. Roman military personal equipment), particularly armor, was of better quality and far more ubiquitous, especially in the late Republican and Early Imperial era, than that of most of their opponents. Soldiers equipped with shields, helmets and highly effective body armor had a major advantage over warriors protected, in many cases, with nothing other than their shields, particularly in a prolonged engagement. * Roman engineering skills were second to none in ancient Europe, and their mastery of both offensive and defensive siege warfare, specifically the construction and investiture of fortifications (cf. Sudis (stake), sudis,
castra In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman people. Beginning ...

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), was another major advantage for the Roman legions. * Roman military training focused on the more effective thrusting of the sword rather than the slash.


See also

* Auxiliaries (Roman military) * Early Roman army * Imperial Roman army * Late Roman army * Legionary * List of Roman wars * List of Roman battles * List of topics related to ancient Rome *
List of Roman legions This is a list of Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the , composed of 4,200 infantry and 300 (cavalry) in the period of the (509 BC–27 BC); and was composed of 5,200 infantry and 120 in the ...
* List of Roman auxiliary regiments * Military history of ancient Rome * Marian Roman army *
Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the (historiographically known as the ). It i ...

Roman army
* Roman army of the mid-Republic * Roman military personal equipment * Structural history of the Roman military * For a more detailed analysis, as well as the Romans in battle, see the articles Roman infantry tactics and Roman military personal equipment.


References


Citations


Bibliography


''The Encyclopedia of Ancient History'', Legions, history and location of
* ''History of the Art of War. Vol 1. Ancient Warfare, Hans Delbrück * ''Roman Warfare'', Adrian Goldsworthy * ''A History of Warfare'', John Keegan * ''The Roman Army'' and ''Greece and Rome at War'', Peter Connolly * ''The Encyclopedia Of Military History: From 3500 B.C. To The Present. (2nd Revised Edition 1986)'', R. Ernest Dupuy, and Trevor N. Dupuy. * ''War'', Gwynne Dyer. * ''The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare'', Trevor N. Dupuy. * Flavius Vegetius Renatus, ''De Re Militari'' (with English translation on-line) *
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, ''The Gallic War'' * William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875. * ''The Punic Wars'', Adrian Goldsworthy. * ''Carnage and Culture'', Victor Davis Hanson * ''The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation'', by Arther Ferrill, 1988 * ''The Complete Roman Army'', by Adrian Goldsworthy * ''The Military System Of The Romans'', by Albert Harkness * ''From the Rise of the Republic and the Might of the Empire to the Fall of the West'', by Nigel Rodgers * ''The Roman Army at War 100 BC – AD 200'' (Oxford, September 1998) by Adrian Goldsworthy * ''The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c.1000-264 BC)'' (Routledge 1995) by T. J. Cornell * "Legion GmbH. Das Unternehmen Römische Armee" (Saarbrücken 2012) by Stefan Zehnter * "Roman Infantry Tactics in the mid-Republic: A Reassessment"( Historia 63, 2014) by Michael J. Taylor *


External links

* Ross Cowan
Roman Legionary 109-58 BC: The Age of Marius, Sulla and Pompey the Great



''UNRV's Roman Military''

Legio X
– Legio X Gemina (Equites) – "Viri Clarissimi" {{DEFAULTSORT:Roman Legion Military of ancient Rome, Legion Military units and formations of the Roman Empire, Legion Military units and formations of the Roman Republic, Legion Military units and formations by size Roman legions, Articles containing video clips