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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…

Primipilus

(408 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] In the Republican Period a centurio primi pili, later described as primipilus or primus pilus, was the highest ranking centurio in a Roman legion. He was in command of the outmost manipulus of the triarii or pilani on the right flank. Normally he was a member of the general's c onsilium and like other centuriones had served several years as a soldier. As legions were originally recruited year by year, a p. served only for one year and was then a simple centurio again; a p. could hold the position several times, however. In 171 BC Spurius Ligustinus reports that du…

Contarii

(109 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] were auxiliary cavalrymen armed with a heavy lance ( contus) about 3.5m long. They held the lance across the withers of the horse, with both hands either on top of or underneath the lance, and were thus not protected by a shield. This lance was probably adopted from the Sarmatians. From the time of Trajan or Hadrian there were separate units of C., as for example the ala I Ulpia contariorum milliaria. Although the C. initially wore no armour, they probably contributed to the development of mailed cavalry. Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast) Bibliography 1  J. W. Eadie, The develop…

Iuniores

(218 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] Under the centuriation system, which the historiographical tradition ascribed to king Servius Tullius, the Roman people were divided into classes according to the wealth of individual citizens. It was simultaneously used for political and military purposes. Each class consisted of two groups of citizens: the iuniores (men of 17-46 years), who had to perform military service and fight where and whenever it was demanded of them, whereas it was the duty of the seniores (men of 46-60 years) to defend the town itself against attacks (Pol. 6,19,2; Liv. 1,43,1f.: seniores ad…

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…

Praetorians

(876 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] ( cohortes praetoriae). In the Roman Republic, the cohors praetoria was a small military unit which guarded the praetorium and acted as an escort for the commander. According to Festus (Fest. 223M.), Cornelius [I 71] Scipio Africanus was the first to have selected 'the bravest' for his protection. Freed from other duties, they also drew higher pay. In the late Republic, powerful commanders had strong bodyguards; thus in 44 BC, M. Antonius [I 9] assembled a bodyguard of 6,000 from his veterans. In 27 BC, Augustus [1] created a standing corps of praetorians who…

Kataphraktoi

(353 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] (κατάφρακτοι; katáphraktoi). The term kataphraktoi refers to the armoured cavalry, which was first encountered by the Romans in 190 BC, in the war against Antiochus III (Liv. 37,40,5). At Carrhae, the army of Crassus was defeated, in 53 BC, by the Parthian cavalry whose men and horses were armoured (Plut. Crassus 24f.). From AD 69 on, the Romans were confronted with the armoured cavalry of the Sarmatians on the lower Danube (Tac. Hist. 1,79). In the Roman army, the first unit of armoured cavalrymen was probably deployed by Hadrian ( ala I Gallorum et Pannoniorum catafr…

Gaesati

(166 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] According to Polybius (Pol. 2,22,1; 2,34), the G. were a Gallic tribe, living in the Alps and along the Rhône; G. went into service as mercenaries, hence their name (Pol. 2,22,1). They took part in the Gallic invasion of Italy in 225 BC, but were beaten off, and subsequently defeated in 222 BC. Gaesum is also the name of a Gallic spear (Caes. B Gall. 3,4), sometimes carried by lightly armed Roman troops (Liv. 8,8,5). In the early Principate, auxiliary troops recruited from Raetia and apparently equipped with this kind of spear were referred to as gaesati. They were stationed…

Singulares

(73 words)

Author(s): Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] were Roman soldiers specially selected to serve as aides or orderlies to high-ranking officers (P. Oxy. 7.1022; CIL III 7334). Singulares are found serving in the officia of the praefectus praetorio , the tribunes of the praetorian and urban cohorts, senatorial military tribunes, and the cavalry prefects. The singularis of the praetorian prefect ranked below the tesserarius and belonged to the principales . Equites singulares Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)

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…

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…

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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