The military structure of the Legion


The typical LEGION , after sorting in cohorts , which was introduced by the consul Mario, in the first century B.C. and in the first centuries A.C. , was composed of 10 cohorts, each of about 480 men, with the exception of the first cohort of about 800 men .
Each cohort was divided into 3 HANDLES, (the first cohort, the most important and most numerous handpieces included instead of 5 ).
Each handpiece was made up of two centuries, each of about 80 men. The handpiece was also called double centurion and then included about 160 men. The legionaries who lived together in a tent (8 men ) were a contubernium. A centurion was 10 contubernia.
For each legion were aggregated 10 squadrons of cavalry, called turmae, for a total of 120 knights ( equites ), with the task of reconnaissance and relay.
There were some special units of Fabri (artisans, builders , engineers ), TUBICINES, trumpet (tuba), cornicines, horn (cornu), etc.
A legion had a workforce of about 5500 infantry and 120 cavalry.
Summing up the sub-units of the legion were:

COHORT (10 in a legion)
HANDLE (3 in a cohort, the first cohort had exceptionally handpieces 5)
CENTURIA (2 in one handpiece)
Contubernium (8 soldiers in a tent ) (10 in a century)


The legion was commanded by Legatus Legionis, generally of senatorial rank, in the name of the Emperor. The legate was assisted by six tribunes (senior officers). The most senior officer (militarily) was chiamatoTRIBUNUS laticlavius, senatorial, and had the functions of Deputy Commander of the Legion. The other five tribunes, of lower rank, were called tribunes ANGUSTICLAVII. Each of these had control functions in both the operational and administrative in the two cohorts.
The cavalry was commanded by a tribunus SEXMENTRIS, of equestrian rank, in office for six months.
Each legion had also prefects (praefecti), senior officers with administrative and logistical tasks of various kinds, such as the management of the camp (Praefectus castrorum), inventory control (Praefectus annonae), the management of construction and crafts (praefectus FABRUM); communications management, and the command of allied units (praefectus COHORTIS); the command of wings of cavalry (praefectus ALAE).
Among the prefects, the military was the real Praefectus Castrorum, third -in-command of the legion, that took the lead in the absence of both the legacy that the senior officer.
Under the Senior Officers mentioned above were the centurions, Lower Officers, who commanded the centuries. Were responsible for the discipline and training and guided their soldiers in battle. Being the centuries in turn joined two by two to form the handpieces, a handpiece had two centurions, one of which PRIOR (the one who commanded the century of the right) had the command of the handpiece, the other POSTERIOR (the one who commanded the century of the left) was chosen by the prior and it was his subordinate.

Among the Centurions there was a hierarchy, as shown below:

PrRIMUS PILUS. He was the most senior centurion of the entire legion. Commanded the first handful of the first cohort and was admitted uico centurion, the Board of Control.
PRIOR PILUS. He commanded the centurion of each cohort, excluding the first cohort.
POSTERIOR pilus. Commanded the II century of each cohort, excluding the first cohort.
PRINCEPS PRIOR. Commanded the III century of each cohort.
PRINCEPS POSTERIOR. Commanded the IV century of each cohort.
PRIOR HASTATUS. Commanded the V century of each cohort.
POSTERIOR HASTATUS. Commanded the VI century of each cohort.
The centurions of the first cohort were all five higher-ranking and the Order Early said.
The OPTIO was the adjutant of the centurion and the second in command . He was in charge of deliveries, and had commanded the centurion appeals. Deployed in the bottom of the formation, with the hastile, a long stick with a metal ball at one end, hit who broke the formation.
The TESSERARIUS was the Legionnaires, in charge of bringing the legionaries orders scrittisulla card.

Therefore, the military hierarchy in the Roman legion was as follows:

Senior Officers:

Legatus Legionis (1)
Tribunus laticlavius ​​(1)
Praefectus castrorum (1)
Praefecti (5)
Tribunus SEXMENTRIS (1) (cavalry commander)
Lower officers (centurions) :

Primus pilus (1)
PRIOR pilus (9 )
POSTERIOR pilus (9 )
PRIOR hastatus (10)
Hastatus POSTERIOR ( 10)


The insignia ( SIGNA ) at the legion were :

AQUILA, the sacred emblem of the legion, the object of veneration. It was given to him by the Senate or the Emperor, when the legion was formed. It was guarded by the first cohort and was brought from an aquilifer, which went before the legionaries at the beginning of the battle. About the auction were posted awards for valor of the legion.

VEXILLUM LEGIONIS, the flag of the legion, revered by the soldiers and taken from vexillifer. It consisted of a square red flag attached to a crossbar with a pike. On the cloth was embroidered in gold, the name , number and the emblem of the legion. That of the “Legio XI Claudia” was most likely the Neptune.

IMPERATORIS IMAGO, was the image of the emperor or the emperor to power under which it was formed legion. This image, carved in wood or metal served to constantly remind the soldiers due to their loyalty to the emperor himself. The insignia was worn dall’IMMAGINIFER .

SIGNUM COHORTIS (or MANIPULI or Centuriae). Even cohorts and often manipulates or the centuries had distinctive insignia. It was brought by signifer, indicating the path to follow to its soldiers marches and in battle.