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Principales

(383 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] The principales of the Roman legions were soldiers who performed special duties, for this were exempted from the usual camp service and received one and a half times or double the pay of common soldiers (Veg. Mil. 2,7); the immunes on the other hand received no increased pay. The  enhanced standing of a principalis is illustrated in a letter by Iulius Appollinaris, a Roman soldier in Egypt: “I give thanks to Serapis and good fortune that while others are working hard all day cutting stones, I am now a principalis and stand around do…

Manipulus

(242 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] The manipulus (maniple) was a tactical unit of the Roman legion introduced in the 4th cent. BC (Liv. 8,8,3: et quod antea phalanges similes Macedonicis, hoc postea manipulatim structa acies coepit esse). It enabled troops to be more flexibly deployed for battle than with the phalanx. Soldiers armed with the pilum (throwing spear) were given more room. The legion was deployed for battle in three ranks ( hastati, principes, triarii ), each of the first two ranks comprising ten manipuli, each of 120 men, while the rank of the triarii comprised ten manipuli, each of 60 men. …

Mercenaries

(1,073 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] I. Greece Mercenaries (μισθοφόρος/ misthophóros or μισθωτός/ misthōtós, ξένος/ xénos) - soldiers who fought in foreign service as professional soldiers in exchange for payment ( misthós) - had existed in Greece since ancient times. In the 6th cent. BC they served Egyptian or eastern kings (Egypt: Hdt. 2,154; ML, No. 7; Babylon: Alc. 350 Lobel/Page); Greek tyrants like Peisistratus [4] or Polycrates [1] needed mercenaries to protect them (Hdt. 1,61; 3,45). Only from the Peloponnesian War onwards did the po…

Extraordinarii

(237 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] The extraordinarii were soldiers from allied Italian cities, serving in the army of early Rome as elite units of infantry and cavalry. Twelve prefects appointed by the consuls selected the best soldiers from the contingents of the alliance ─ around a third of the cavalry and a fifth of the infantry ─ in order to make up the extraordinarii (Pol. 6,26,6). Some extraordinarii were entrusted with the special task of accompanying the consuls and acting as their bodyguard. They also took part in battles as regular troops; in 209 BC they fought und…

Numerus

(234 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] In the Roman army, generally, a number of soldiers or specifically, a military unit; as the word lacked a precise definition, it could be used of either the auxilia or of the legions (Tac. Agr. 18,2; CIL III 12257: cohors Lusitanorum). Units lacking their own name were those referred to as numeri, e.g. the equites singulares Augusti (ILS 2182-2184; 2129) or the exploratores (ILS 2631; 2632; 9186; 9187). The same applied to units which had been recruited at the frontiers of the Empire: these numeri were often named after their place of origin (cf. e.g. the numeri Palmyrenorum,…

Optio

(367 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] In the army of the Roman Republic an optio served under each of the two centuriones of a manipulus . The word derives from the fact that the optio was originally selected by a centurio ( optare, 'choose', 'wish for'; Festus p. 184M; cf. Veg. Mil. 2,7,4). In the Principate, an optio or optio centuriae (ILS 2116) was among the principales in the legiones, who received either pay and a half or double pay (Soldiers' pay) and performed special duties. An optio was ranked between the tesserarius and the signifer (Ensign bearer); he was also under the centurio, in whose absence he …

Comitatenses

(471 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] The comitatenses were the units that constituted the mobile army of the late Roman Empire. Their name derives from the comitatus, the administrative machine that served the princeps and accompanied him on his travels. The comitatenses were not tied to any specific territorium, and could be joined to territorial troops permanently stationed in specific provinces ( limitanei or ripenses). It is probable that  Diocletianus had raised a mobile army, but it was of limited size. However,  Constantinus enlarged the comitatenses and gave them new significance by on …

Mutiny

(1,285 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
( seditio militum). [German version] I. Military Service and Discipline The discipline of the Roman army impressed even non-Roman authors such as Polybius and Flavius Iosephus [4]. They praised the superiority of Roman soldiers, which was achieved by focused training, so that they ‘ruled almost the entire world because of their physical strength and courage ’ (Ios. BI 2,580). However, in the early Republic, the army consisted of a levy of citizens who had a certain amount of wealth. Therefore, it was diff…

Riparienses milites

(195 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] RM are first mentioned (in the form ripenses) in a decision of Constantine I in AD 325 (Cod. Theod. 7,20,4), where they are distinguished from the comitatenses , the field army. Ripenses ranked just below the comitatenses, but above the soldiers of the alae and cohorts, who made up the auxiliary troops (Auxilia). They obtained exemption from the poll tax for themselves and their wives after twenty-four years' service, but were less privileged than the comitatenses in the case of a medical discharge. It is possible that the ripenses or RM (Cod. Theod. 7,1,18; 7,4,14) …

Limitanei

(705 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] General designation for the units of the late Roman army that had fixed garrisons in the border regions ( limites; see limes ) of the Roman Empire. They were under the command of a dux limitis, who was responsible for a section of the border, which often stretched over several territorial provinces. The term limitanei is first recorded in an official document in AD 363 (Cod. Theod. 12,1,56); it was used to distinguish the territorial troops from the soldiers of the field army ( comitatenses ), which was not bound to a specific territory. The cre…

Cavalry

(2,665 words)

Author(s): Starke, Frank (Tübingen) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. History With the development of the skill of driving teams of horses in the 1st half of the 2nd millennium BC, the methodological foundations of riding also were in place ( Horse III,  Horsemanship). Although there is definite evidence of mounted messengers and scouts from as early as the 14th/13th cents. BC onwards (Akkadogram LÚPETḪALLUM ‘rider’ in Hittite texts; Egyptian pictorial evidence [10]), the use of the cavalry as an armed force did not develop until during the 9th/8th cents. Decisive in this was the diff…

Cohors

(498 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] During early Republican times, the  allies placed units of 500 men under the command of the Roman army, which were later called cohortes and came under the command of a prefect of the relevant town. It remains unclear when the cohortes were integrated into the army as tactical units. Polybius called a cohort a unit consisting of three  maniples (Pol. 11,23; Battle of Ilipa 206 BC), but in his famous description of the Roman army, cohortes are not mentioned. Livy mentions cohortes in his representation of the campaigns in Spain during the 2nd cent. BC, sometime…

Legio

(5,549 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] A. Republic In early times, the Roman military contingent probably consisted of 3,000 soldiers in total, each of the three tribus of the royal era providing 1,000 men (Varro, Ling. 5,89) - a military force described as ‘the levy’ ( legio). The division of the Roman people into six classes of wealth, ascribed by historiographical tradition to Servius Tullius (Liv. 1,42,4-43,13; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 4,15-18) also had a military purpose: a citizen's assets dictated with which weapons he was to equip himself. Those without property ( capite censi) were excluded from mili…

Bucellarii

(172 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] In late antiquity, bucellarii described groups of barbarian soldiers in the service of respected warriors, who from time to time deployed them in the interest of Rome. Eventually, the term bucellarii developed a particular meaning: an armed retinue, who served large landowners as bodyguards, a practice which -- despite being banned by Leo -- was frequently encountered. Bucellarii could also be found around high-ranking officials, mostly officers; they swore an oath of allegiance to both their lord and the emperor, which seems to indicat…

Exploratores

(303 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] Exploratores were the scouts of the Roman army. They reconnoitred the movements and deployments of the enemy as well as the terrain and positions of camps. In the early years of the Principate, soldiers selected from the   auxilia were commandeered from their units for a certain length of time to act as scouts. In the Dacian War (AD 105-106), Ti. Claudius Maximus, then serving in an ala, was selected by Trajan himself as a scout and brought the princeps the head of King Decebalus. In the mid 2nd cent. there is evidence of small reconnaissance units called explorationes. They w…

Aerarium militare

(577 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] Since the Roman senate in the Republican Period was unwilling to support the soldiers after they left the army with provisions of land or money ( praemia), certain commanders took care of it on their own account. This contributed to the development of armies that owed personal allegiance to an individual leader and helped to undermine political stability, beginning with the dictatorship of Cornelius [I 90] Sulla. When the younger Augustus (C. Octavius) established himself against his adversaries in the civ…

Centurio

(374 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] With the exception of the senators and the equites, the centurio was the most important officer in the Roman army. In the 1st cent. BC, a cohort (  cohors ) contained six centuriones, each commanding a   centuria of 80 men, and bearing titles reflecting the former mode of organization by maniples: pilus prior, pilus posterior, princeps prior, princeps posterior, hastatus prior, hastatus posterior. By the Flavian period at the latest, there were only five centuriones in the first cohort, which was, however, the highest ranking cohort in the legion ( primi ordines). There …

Evocati

(394 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] In the 2nd cent. BC, Roman soldiers had to serve in the military for up to six years, followed by a further 16 years, during which as evocati they had to be available to be called up again. During the civil wars in the final years of the Roman Republic, military leaders frequently tried to talk experienced soldiers into returning to their units. Troops recruited in that manner were referred to as evocati. In rank, evocati stood above simple soldiers, but below the centuriones. They either formed a special unit, or they were integrated into existing units. Frequ…

Centuria

(874 words)

Author(s): Gizewski, Christian (Berlin) | Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
In general signifies an amount measured by or divided into units of 100, and can therefore relate e.g. to plots of land as well as to people. Thus the relationship to the figure 100 can be lost, the word then referring merely to a mathematically exactly measured or divided amount. [German version] A. Political Centuria is particularly used in the constitution of the Roman Republic to denote the electorate for the   comitia centuriata . In this meaning, the term probably derives from the contingent of 100 foot soldiers that, according to the histo…

Recruits, training of

(845 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] I. Greece See Ephebeia. Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast) [German version] II. Rome "Look at the training of legions ( exercitatio legionum)  ... From this comes that courage in battle that makes them ready to face wounds". Cicero here expresses the traditional pride of Romans in their military training (Cic. Tusc. 2,37). In the early Republic rudimentary military training was probably carried on in the Campus Martius. Later, when citizens living further away from Rome were recruited, the Romans recognize…
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