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Spearmen would deploy themselves in tightly packed rows to form a shield wall with their spears pointing forwards. There were now three lines of soldiers when in battle formation.
Roman soldiers had to purchase their own equipment. Each of these three lines was subdivided into maniples, each consisting of two centuries of 60 men commanded by the senior of the two centurions.
Centuries were normally 60 soldiers each at this time in the hastati and principes no longer men. The mid Republican legion had a nominal strength of about men.
Later on the legions were made up of 80 strong centuries. Each century had its standard and was made up of ten units of eight soldiers who shared a tent, millstone, a mule and cooking pot depending on duration of tour.
Throughout Rome's Late Republic, the legions played an important political role. By the 1st century BC the threat of the legions under a demagogue was recognized.
Roman Governors were not allowed to leave their provinces with their legions. The rank of 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 first file or spear , who directly commanded the first century of the first cohort 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 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. From the time of Gaius Marius onwards, legionaries received denarii a year equal to Sestertii ; this basic rate remained unchanged until Domitian , who increased it to 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 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 prisoners of war and divided amongst the legion for later sale, which would bring in a sizeable supplement to their regular pay.
Later, under Caracalla , the praemia increased to 5, denarii. From BC onwards, each legion used an 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.
When Caesar's troops hesitated to leave their ships for fear of the Britons, the aquilifer of the 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. 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.
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 Iberians and warship design cf. Carthaginians' quinquereme , as well as military units, such as heavy mounted cavalry and mounted archers Parthians and Numidians.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Roman legion disambiguation. See also: List of Roman legions.
Ancient heavy infantry unit of 1, to 5, men. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
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There is some evidence that in the first century the size of the first cohort was doubled:. Complicating questions of the size of the Roman legion were the inclusion of men other than the fighters in the numbers given for the centuries.
There were large numbers of enslaved and civilian non-combatants lixae , some armed, others not. Another complication is the likelihood of a double-sized first cohort beginning during the Principate.
In addition to the legionaries, there were also auxiliaries who were mainly non-citizens, and a navy. Share Flipboard Email.
Ancient History and Latin Expert. Ten cohorts made up the heavy-infantry strength of a legion, but 20 cohorts were usually combined with a small cavalry force and other supporting units into a little self-supporting army of about 10, men.
Two infantry weapons gave the legion its famous flexibility and force; the pilum , a 2-metre 7-foot javelin used for both throwing and thrusting; and the gladius , a centimetre inch cut-and-thrust sword with a broad, heavy blade.
For protecton each legionary had a metal helmet, cuirass, and convex shield. In battle, the first line of maniples attacked on the double, hurling javelins and then diving in with swords before the enemy had time to recover.
Then came the maniples of the second line, and only a resolute foe could rally from the two successive shocks.
As Roman armies of the late Republic and Empire became larger and more professional, the cohort, with an average field strength of men, replaced the maniple as the chief tactical unit within legions.
In the military operations of Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Julius Caesar, a legion was composed of 10 cohorts, with 4 cohorts in the first line and 3 each in the second and third lines.
Seven legions in three lines, comprising about 25, heavy infantry, occupied a mile and a half of front.
As Rome evolved from a conquering to a defending power, the cohort was increased to a field strength of — men. Mark Lucas. Involving Carers Blog.
Involving Carers. Weekly Weather Data Blog. Weekly Weather Data.Legion, a military organization, originally the largest permanent organization in the armies of ancient Rome. The term legion also denotes the military system by which imperial Rome conquered and ruled the ancient world. Though its exact origins are unknown, the Roman legion seems to have developed from the phalanx. Organization of the Roman Imperial Legion In the Roman army, a full strength legion was officially made up of 6, men, but typically all legions were organized at under strength and generally consisted of approximately 5, fighting men including officers. They were further divided into: Scholae: the personal guard of the Emperor, created by Constantine I to replace the Praetorian Guard; Palatinae: "palace troops" were the highest ranked units, created by Constantine I after he disbanded the Praetorian Comitatenses: regular field units, some were. Top 10 Ancient Roman Legions 1. Augusta Legion 2. Germanica Legion Founded by Julius Caesar to bolster his warring campaign against Pompey, the Legio I Germanica or 3. Hispana Triumphalis Legion Originally known as the Legio IX Hispania, the Hispana Legion was amongst the first 4. Macedonica. Even in the course of a military campaign, the size of a Roman legion varied because, unlike the case of the Persian Immortals, there wasn't always someone waiting in the wings to take over when a legionary ( miles legionarius) was slain, taken prisoner, or incapacitated in battle. Roman legions varied over time not only in size but in number.