Ancient Roman Military

The Ancient Roman Military was one of the most triumphant troops and most effective fighting forces in the history of the armed forces.

Most of its soldiers were not only feared by their enemies but were also properly-trained and equipped with the right amount of stamina and discipline to dominate any battleground.

Several historians such as Greek biographer Plutarch believed that the success of the Roman military was due to a huge part played by founder Romulus who created legionary forces in the Republic and Imperial periods of Ancient Rome.

The core of the Roman Legion was primarily made up of heavily-armored troops which utilized the power of technology such as the Gladius to rule the world for more than a millennium.

Ordinarily, the members of the Roman Legion were people born in Rome who signed up to go to war for two decades.

At the end of their tenure, the Roman government awarded them a huge sum of money to compensate for their efforts of protecting the city.

Apart from Roman citizens, the Roman Legion is also made up of non-Roman soldiers known as the auxiliaries.

Unlike the Roman soldiers which are required to serve 20 years in the force, the auxiliaries fight for Rome for 25 years in the hopes of being awarded Roman citizenship after their tenure.

During Ancient times, Roman citizenship was an equivalent of freedom for most people as it provided them with a lot of perks and benefits.

Facts about the Ancient Roman Military

  • The Army was classified into Legions of about 5,400 soldiers with each group being led by a legate who is normally a Governor or a Senator. Legions were also comprised of ten groups of soldiers known as the cohorts. The cohorts were then split into batches of men called centuries. The leaders and officers of every century held the distinction of a centurion.
  • Gaius Marius helped the Roman military become the most dynamic group which dominated the civilized world after he was elected as the Roman consul and general in 107 B.C.E. He provided volunteers with fighting armors all at the expense of the state.
  • Historians estimate that the average legionary handled roughly 45 kilos of weight and frequently had to march 20 miles every single day.
  • The majority of the Roman soldiers were believed to have been recruited around the age of 18 to 20 years old.
  • Other than the Gladius, the Roman army also used weapons such as the pugio or the dagger, javelin, arrows, and spears against their opponents.
  • A standard soldier was paid by the Roman government 13,500 denarii for 20 years of service while the first cohort of a legion received 27,000 and the primi ordines received 54,000.
  • Normally, a legion is made up of 10 cohorts, 60 centuries, 100 tents, 80 soldiers, and 120 cavalries. The primary duty of the cavalry is to scout their enemies and serve as the messenger of news to everyone in the troops.
  • Route marches in Ancient Roman Military often occur three times a month.

Who was the leader of the Manipular Legion?

Among the first up-to-date accounts of a Roman Legion was headed by Polybius from 150 B.C.E. to 120 B.C.E.

This specific legion was referred to as the Manipular Legion which was mainly composed of smaller units of 120 to 160 soldiers known as the maniples.

Due to its low number of troops, the Manipular was ideally used by the Romans to match the looser formations of their enemies, thus, allowing them to move quickly from one place to another.

How many soldiers fought during the Roman Empire?

According to numerous scholars, the Roman Empire was comprised of 45 million to 120 million people.

Renowned historian Edward Gibbon added that the Roman military had an estimated standing force of nearly four million soldiers during the time of Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Where was the earliest Roman Army based on?

The earliest Roman Army was based on the Phalanx system of Greece.

What is the main duty of the Praetorian Guard?

The primary duty of the Praetorian Guard is to protect the Emperor at all times.