The Roman army is the generic term for the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the kingdom of Rome , the Roman Republic , the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine empire . It is thus a term that spans approximately 2,000 years, during which the Roman armed forces underwent numerous permutations in composition, organization, equipment and tactics, while conserving a core of lasting traditions.
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts". Maniples/Cohorts were divided into "centuries".
In reference to the early Kingdom of Rome “ the legion" means the entire Roman army.
For most of the Roman Imperial period, the legions were a part of the Imperial army and formed its elite heavy infantry, recruited exclusively from Roman citizens). A legion included a small cavalry attachment. The Roman army (for most of the Imperial period) consisted mostly of "auxiliary" cohorts who provided additional infantry, and the vast majority of the Roman army's cavalry.
Because of the enormous military successes of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire , the legion has long been regarded as the prime ancient model for military efficiency and ability.
The rank of centurion was an officer rank that included many grades, meaning centurions had very good prospects for promotion. The most senior centurion in a legion was known as the primus pilus who directly commanded the 1st 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 1st century was known as a pilus prior and was in command of his entire respective 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 .
An ordinary centurion was the approximate equivalent of a Captain in a modern army, whereas the most senior centurion was closer to the equivalent of a full Colonel.
The six centuries of a normal cohort, were, in order of precedence:
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Produced by: Erdem Ercan, Jan Maier, Federic Mandel