Centurion: From Glory to Glory

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The Roman Class System

The Upper Class

1. The Patrician were the highest class in Roman society. In order to be a Patrician a family member had to have held the rank of Consul of Rome.

2. The Senatorial class were the next highest class in Roman society. They were arguably the most powerful social group, and many were from the noble class. Eligibility required wealthy and a career in politics

3. The Equestrian class was the third highest class in Roman society. Eligibility required wealth (although not as rich as a senator) with property worth at least 400,000 sesterces. The Equestrian class was involved in the type of business that was considered below the dignity of senators and nobles.

The Lower Classes

1. All other Roman freeborn citizens were Plebeians (commoners). Sometimes known as vulgus citizens, they formed the bulk of the population of the Empire. To be a freeborn citizen both your parents had to be citizens.

2. The Peregrini (freeborn) men and women who originated in Roman territories were the class of freeborn foreigners. These people were often not born Roman, but were granted citizenship as Rome expanded the Empire to include their homelands.

3. Liberti (ex-slaves), slaves were often granted freedom in a master's will, or if the master allowed, their freedom could be purchased. Also known as libertini, these freed slaves could become citizens, and their children freeborn were either commoners or foreigners.

4. Slervi (slaves) were individuals owned by the upper classes, or anyone with enough money to buy a servant. Slaves were men and women born into slavery, captured in war or by criminal act and sold into slavery.

The Ranks of the Roman Copiae - the Legions

Senior Officer

1. Legate ('Legatus'): This is an example of the class system in action, as only men of the Senatorial or Noble class could command a legion. The commanders of the legions were of two types:

2. Legatus Propraetor: a senator or ex-consul given command of a legion (or legions) on provincial service, who was also the provincial governor of the region.

3. Legatus Legionis: an experienced commander given command of one of the city of Rome's legions.

4. Tribunes ('Tribunus'): In any legion there were six Tribunes. The senior Tribune (Tribunus Laticlavius) acting as second-in-command was from the Senatorial or Noble class to enable him to hold the rank, and have the ability to command the Junior Tribunes (Tribuni Angusticlavi) from the lower Equestrian class.

5. Praefectus Castrorum ('Camp Prefect'): This officer was normally a time-served Centurion Hastatus Prior who had been made a member of equestrian rank on retirement. This experienced officer was the legion's battle commander, and was second-in-command during hostilities, even though he was originally of a lower social status than the Tribunes. This avoided the risk of an inexperienced officer (promoted due to status) making mistakes in battle5.

6. In support there were five Junior Tribunes (Tribuni Angusticlavii) who were from the Equestrian class. Nearly all these Equestrian class tribunes had commanded a variety of units to gain experience.

7. Centurio ('Centurion, also known as Ordinarius'): An officer in command of a century, dating from Rome's Etruscan beginnings it meant the command of one hundred men. This number of men was the standard unit size to muster in times of war, however that exact number couldn't be guaranteed and sometimes there were as few as 80. Later, in the early years of Rome's expansion, a century contained 120 men. This was subsequently reduced to 100, and in the time of the Emperors it was reduced again to 80 men.

There were various levels of seniority amongst the legion's Senior Centurions, based upon their cohorts' position in the legions battle formation, and their century's position in the cohort. The rank in order of seniority within a cohort was:

Centurion Hastatus Prior ('first spear'): often known as the Primus Pilus. This officer was the senior centurion of the legion commanding the first cohort. A successful Centurion Hastatus Prior was often made a member of the equestrian rank on retirement.

Junior Officers

1. Centurion Princeps (Primus Pilus) Prior - or first leader

2. Centurion Pilus Prior - or first lowest

3. They were in turn supported by junior Centurions:

4. Centurion Hastatus Posterior - or rear spear

5. Centurion Princeps Posterior - or rear leader

6. Centurion Pilus Posterior - or rear lowest

7. Each Centurion was in command of a century of 80 men from the time of Augustus (onward 30 BC), prior to that, a century consisted of 120 men.

8. Non-commissioned Officers

9. Optio Centuriae ('Optio Centurion, a rear rank officer rated as an Optaio often came with a pay upgrade'): This officer was appointed from the ranks by his Centurion - it was his duty to command the rear of the century and act as the Centurion's second-in-command. His badge of office was a wooden staff or rod, often used to back his orders. In order to be visible in action, the Optio Centuriae had helmets with black and white plumes mounted fore and aft, with the tail hanging at the rear of the helmet.

10. Duplicarius ('second in command to the Decurion who commanded a single turmae'): a rank that was signified by a pay rate twice that of a legionary, or Sesquiplicarius Salararius, third in command to the Decurion.

11. Tesserarius ('watch officer'): was responsible for the distribution of the watch words issued by the commanding officer to the guard commanders, and preventing any unauthorized use.

12. Cornicularius ('administrator'): The military title given to administrative deputy of the Legate and various senior officers.

13. Decanus: commanded the smallest unit in the legion known as an octet, contubernium or eight-man unit. This unit shared a tent, travelled and fought together. Ten contubernium made up a century.

14. Aquilifer ('the eagle bearer'): The legion's eagle was the physical representation of the legion. If the eagle was lost the legion was disgraced and the unit was often disbanded.

15. Signifer ('the standard bearer'): Each century and cohort had a standard bearer. The standard (signum) was the unit's emblem, typically three disc emblems mounted vertically. These displayed the unit's awards and decorations. The top of the standard had an emblem, commonly a spear, a hand, or a wreath.

16. Imaginifer ('bearer of the standard with the image of the Emperor'): This was a rank dating from the reign of Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD), and was to encourage the troops' loyalty to the Emperor. The Imaginifer was only stationed in the leading cohort.

17. Vexillarius: or vexillifer (flag bearer). The vexillum (flag) was hung by its top edge from a 'T'-shaped flag staff; this slowly fell out of use - the Praetorian Guard were the last unit to use the device. A Vexillation Fortress has been named after a company standard and a company of men. The cavalry equivalent was the draconarius, who carried the standard known as a draco.

18. Cornicularius ('administrator'): This was the rank held by the administrative assistant to the Legate or other high ranking officers.

19. Cornicen ('the horn blower'): Worked with the signifer drawing the attention of the men to the centurion's signals, and issued the audible commands of the officers. The horn was a coiled, circular instrument carried on the shoulder of the Cornicen.

The Ordinary Legionary Ranks

1. Discens ('legionary in special training'): Ranked slightly higher than the ordinary legionary, if only for the fact that he received extra pay.

2. Miles ('ordinary legionary'): and Miles Gregarius (ordinary legionary of good standing), the title was granted for conduct in battle, or good conduct. Munifex is not a rank; it means a miles who is fit for duty.

3. Do not confuse with the term Clibanarius; this was a miles clad in heavy armor and not a rank. These men were grouped in units of 80 to form a century. Two centuries formed a Maniple or Manlpulus. Three Maniples were grouped to form a Cohort. This changed in 106 BC when reforms abolished the Maniple, reorganizing the legion's 30 Maniples into 10 Cohorts.

4. Tiro Newly-recruited Legionary in training.

5. Special Duty Unusual or Rarely Used Ranks

6. Beneficiarius: A beneficiarius was a rank given to a senior soldier chosen from the legionary troops. He served as an orderly assigned to a senior officer, to serve as his aide. He was often assigned administrative duties, collected customs duty or tax or supervised the policing of a district, as well as many other duties assigned to this rank.

7. Beneficiarius Consularis - Consular aid

8. Beneficiarius Tribuni - aid to a Tribune

9. Beneficiarius Interpretes - interpreters

10. Beneficiarius Notarii - secretaries

11. Beneficiarius Librarii - archivists

12. Beneficiarius Exceptores - short-hand writers

13. Beneficiarius Exacti - recorders

14. Beneficiarius Haruspices - seers

15. Beneficiarius Classis - fleet quartermaster.

16. Triplicarius: This was a very rare rank that was given to a senior soldier who had achieved status by experience, and was rewarded with a rate of pay three times that of an ordinary legionary.

17. Curator Veteranorum ('a commander of a veteran legionary unit'): a unit commander of men serving beyond their retirement age. These men were held in service or brought out of retirement in time of civil unrest or other emergency.

18. Missicus ('a retired veteran Legionary'): these veteran soldiers received a land grant to enable them to settle into civilian life. These men and their families were often the first settlers in newly-conquered lands.

Support Personnel

1. Explorator a scout - the term also applied to spies working with forward units.

2. Mensor a surveyor - a team of surveyors was referred to as Metatore.

3. Capsarius a doctor or Medicus (doctor or field medic). The Roman army had a very proficient army medical service, not equaled for 1,400 years.

4. Cerarius a bookkeeper - named after the cera, the wax tablet he always used.

5. Mulio a mule driver - part of the impedimenta (baggage train) mainly used for carrying the tents, food and tools. The troops were able to travel through hostile territory uncluttered and ready to fight.

Other Terms in order of appearance

1.Insulea - House or home.

2.Bulla - an amulet worn like a locket, was given to male children in Ancient Rome nine days after birth

3.Princeps Senatus - The princeps senatus was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and owning no imperium, this office brought enormous prestige to the senator holding it.

4.Nasi - (נָשִׂיא) is a Hebrew title meaning prince in Biblical Hebrew, Prince (of the Sanhedrin) in Mishnaic Hebrew, or president in Modern Hebrew.

5.Av Beit Din, Av Beis Din, or Abh Beyth Diyn (abbreviated: AB"D) (Hebrew: אב בית דין, "Chief of the Court") was the second-highest-ranking member oft he Jewish court.

6.Cuirass is a piece of armor, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso. In a suit of armor this important piece was generally connected to a back piece and cuirass could refer to the complete torso-protecting armor.

7.Aquila, or eagle, was a prominent symbol used in ancient Rome, especially as the standard of a Roman legion.

8.Castro was a word used by the ancient Romans to mean buildings or plots of land reserved for or constructed for use as a military defensive position.

9.Contubernium was the smallest organized unit of soldiers in the Roman Army and was composed of eight legionaries, the equivalent of a modern squad.

10. Tesserae - Roman dices were the most popular game between adults in ancient Roman Empire and people from all social statements used to play. Roman Dices, called Tesserae, were played in taverns, gambling houses, brothels, and military camps, on the street and even in the palaces. Emperors like Caligula or Commodus felt a great attraction to this game.

11. Mezuzah (Hebrew: מְזוּזָה "doorpost"; plural: מְזוּזוֹת mezuzot) is a piece of parchment (often contained in a decorative case) inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21). These verses comprise the Jewish prayer "Shema Yisrael", beginning with the phrase: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One" A mezuzah is affixed to the doorframe in Jewish homes to fulfill the mitzvah (Biblical commandment) to inscribe the words of the Shema "on the knob posts of your house" (Deuteronomy 6:9.)

12. Mitzvah" means "commandment." In its strictest sense, it refers only to commandments instituted in the Torah; however, the word is commonly used in a more generic sense to include all of the laws, practices and customs of halakhah, and is often used in an even more loose way to refer to any good deed?

13. Laudatio funebris or eulogy was a formal oration or panegyric in praise of the dead. It was one of two forms of discourse at a Roman funeral, the other being the chant (nenia).[16] The practice is associated with noble families, and the conventions for words spoken at an ordinary person's funeral go unrecorded. While men practiced oratory in Rome, an elite woman might also be honored with a laudatio.

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