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The Primus pilus or Primipilus was the senior centurion of a Roman legion.
A centurion was a professional officer of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Most centurions commanded groups of centuries of around 100 legionaries, but senior centurions commanded cohorts or took senior staff roles in their legion. Centurions were also found in the Roman navy. In the Byzantine Army, they were also known by the name kentarch. Their symbol of office was the vine staff, with which they disciplined even Roman citizens protected from other forms of beating by the Porcian Laws.
A Roman legion(romanum legio) was a large unit of the Roman army.
The literal translation of "primus pilus" is "first spear."According to the Oxford Latin Dictionary, the word "pilus" when used in this sense would relate to the Latin word "pilum," or "spear" in English.
In the late Roman republic, the cohort (of which there were between six and ten) became the basic tactical unit of the legions. The cohort was composed of five to eight centuries, each led by a centurion assisted by an optio , a soldier who could read and write. The senior centurion of the legion and commander of the first cohort was called the primus pilus, a career soldier and advisor to the legate. While every normal cohort was composed of five to eight centuries (normally six in secondus to decius cohorts), the one that was led by the primus pilus (the first) had about ten centuries, or 800 men. It also had a number of other staff, such as cooks, clerks, etc.; that is, non-combatants. In modern infantry ranks, primus pilus would be considered a Lt. Colonel in relation to battalion-size units, though there is no direct corresponding equivalent.
A cohort was a standard tactical military unit of a Roman legion, though the standard changed with time and situation, and was composed of between 360-800 soldiers. A cohort is considered to be the equivalent of a modern military battalion. The cohort replaced the maniple following the reforms attributed to Gaius Marius in 107 BC. Shortly after the military reforms of Marius, each legion formed 10 cohorts. The cohorts were named "first cohort," "second cohort" etc. The first cohort gathered the most experienced legionaries, while the legionaries in the tenth cohort were the least experienced. Until the middle of the third century AD, 10 cohorts made up a Roman legion.
An optio, plural optiones and sometimes, albeit rarely, anglicised as option – was a position in a centuria (century) of a Roman army similar to that of an executive officer. The main function of an optio was as an optio centuriae, the second-in-command of a century, although there were many other roles an optio could adopt.
A legatus 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 the officer in command of a legion.
Only eight officers in a fully officered legion outranked the primus pilus: The legate ( lēgātus legiōnis ), commanding the legion; the senior tribune (tribunus laticlavus); the Camp Prefect (praefectus castrorum); and the five junior tribunes (tribūnī angusticlāviī).
Tribune was the title of various elected officials in ancient Rome. The two most important were the tribunes of the plebs and the military tribunes. For most of Roman history, a college of ten tribunes of the plebs acted as a check on the authority of the senate and the annual magistrates, holding the power of ius intercessionis to intervene on behalf of the plebeians, and veto unfavourable legislation. There were also military tribunes, who commanded portions of the Roman army, subordinate to higher magistrates, such as the consuls and praetors, promagistrates, and their legates. Various officers within the Roman army were also known as tribunes. The title was also used for several other positions and classes in the course of Roman history.
There are ranks such as corporal, general, private, fireman in no particular order. Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. Military ranks and the military rank system define among others dominance, authority, as well as roles and responsibility in a military hierarchy. The military rank system incorporates the principles of exercising power and authority, and the military chain of command – the succession of commanders superior to subordinates through which command is exercised – constructs an important component for organized collective action.
The Praetorian Guard was an elite unit of the Imperial Roman army whose members served as personal bodyguards to the Roman emperors. During the era of the Roman Republic, the Praetorians served as a small escort force for high-ranking officials such as senators or provincial governors like procurators, and also serving as bodyguards for high ranking officers within the Roman legions. With the republic's transition into the Roman Empire, however, the first emperor, Augustus, founded the Guard as his personal security detail. Although they continued to serve in this capacity for roughly three centuries, the Guard became notable for its intrigue and interference in Roman politics, to the point of overthrowing emperors and proclaiming their successors. In 312, the Guard was disbanded by Constantine the Great.
Decimation was a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of capital offences, such as cowardice, mutiny, desertion, and insubordination, and for pacification of rebellious legions. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth". The procedure was a pragmatic attempt to balance the need to punish serious offences with the realities of managing a large group of offenders.
The Marian reforms of 107 BC were a group of military reforms initiated by Gaius Marius, a statesman and general of the Roman Republic.
A military tribune was an officer of the Roman army who ranked below the legate and above the centurion. Young men of Equestrian rank often served as military tribune as a stepping stone to the Senate. The tribunus militum should not be confused with the elected political office of tribune of the people (tribunus plebis) nor with that of tribunus militum consulari potestate.
Centuria is a Latin term denoting military units consisting of (originally) 100 men. The size of the century changed over time and from the first century B.C.E. throughout most of the empire the standard size of a centuria was 80 men.
The city of Rome, founded in a strategic location among a war-like people, needed to concern itself with military activity from the start. As Rome grew, its military needs changed. This article covers the military establishment of the Roman kingdom up to about 300BC.
The Auxilia were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen legions by Augustus after his reorganisation of the Imperial Roman army from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions and, in addition, provided almost all of the Roman army's cavalry and more specialised troops. The auxilia thus represented three-fifths of Rome's regular land forces at that time. Like their legionary counterparts, auxiliary recruits were mostly volunteers, not conscripts.
The praefectus castrorum was, in the Roman army of the early Empire, the third most senior commander of the Roman legion after the legate (legatus) and the senior military tribune. His responsibility was looking after equipment and building works but he could command the legion when his seniors were absent. The post was usually held by men coming from the ranks of the centurionate, having already served as chief centurions of a legion, and was therefore open to ordinary citizens. A camp prefect's job was to maintain and update the equipment, organize the legion, and make sure that the soldiers were properly trained. Prefects of this rank, including Sextus Vibius Gallus, were awarded prizes (dona) to mark their achievements.
Eagles of the Empire is a historical military fiction series written by Simon Scarrow. The books follow two officers in the Imperial Roman army, Quintus Licinius Cato and Lucius Cornelius Macro, during the 1st century AD, in the reign of Emperor Claudius.
A turma was a cavalry unit in the Roman army of the Republic and Empire. In the Byzantine Empire, it became applied to the larger, regiment-sized military-administrative divisions of a thema. The word is often translated as "squadron" but so is the term ala, a unit that was made up of several turmae.
Spurius Ligustinus was a Roman of Sabine origin soldier and centurion in the Roman army during the 2nd century BC.
The Imperial Roman army are the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the Roman Empire from about 30 BC to 476 AD. This period is sometimes split into the Principate and Dominate (285–476) periods.
The gens Reginia was an obscure plebeian family at ancient Rome. Few members of this gens are mentioned in history, but several are known from inscriptions.
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