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Military


Roman Army Officers

Each century was commanded by a centurion. Next above them in each legion, were 6 tribunes (tribuni milituri). These had charge, two at a time. Century, or centurion, has no reference to the word centum, a hundred, but to the division of the people by centuries. Tribune, too, is derived from tribe (tribus). The complement of cavalry (equitatus), for each legion was three hundred, called Ala, or Justus equitatus. These were divided into ten turmae or troops; and each turma into three decuria, or bodies of ten men. The Officers of the Legion were,

  • 1. Six Military tribunes, usually appointed from the noble families at Rome through political influence, who commanded under the consul in turn, usually a month. Under the early Empire, each legion was commanded by a Tribunus militum Augusti (under the republic, trio. mil. a popula), who, however, was subject to the authority of a higher officer, the legatus legionii, who was supreme commander of both the legion and the auxiliary troops associated with it. Their functions had reference to the levying and discharge, the equipment and supplies, of the troops; they also tried and punished offenders against military law. In later times (as related by Vegetius) the sphere of the tribune was reduced to the cohort.
  • 2. The Centuriones, who commanded the centuries. The centurions were the real leaders of the legion, and were chosen from the ranks for their experience and skill. Minor offences fell under the cognizance of the centurion.
The Officers of the Cavalry were,
  • 1. The Prafectus Ala, or commander of the wing.
  • 2. The Decuriones, or captains of tea
The whole army was under the command of the consul or proconsul, who acted as commander-in-chief Under him were his Legati, or lieutenants, who acted in his absence, or under his direction; or, as his deputies, were sent by him on embassies, or on business of special importance. Under ordinary circumstances at the time of the Republic, four legions were levied yearly, two being assigned to each consul, and thus forming a consular army. When both consuls took the field, their united troops, together with the contingents of the allies, amounted to nearly 40,000 men.

The Jugurthine and Cimbric wars first revealed the dilemma into which territorial expansion had brought the state. Possessions beyond the sea needed more skillful generals than the constitutional limitations admitted, and they required larger armies than conservative principles could provide. The day was soon to come when the military organization required by transmarine domains would remold the constitution of the state to its own needs, and Rome herself be forced to accept an imperial master.




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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:28:23 ZULU