Organising the Roman army
The Roman army was HUGE, even during peace time. The army would be even
bigger in times of war.
An army this size needed to be organised.
Read the following explanation and fill in the gaps as you go along.
8 legionaries together made up a Contubernium. These
8 men would serve together for their whole 25 years
(unless they were killed). They shared a tent, trained
together and lived together.
10 Contubernia (note the spelling of the plural!)
made up a Century, commanded by a Centurion.
There were 80 soldiers in a
The Centurion was in charge of training and
discipline. He carried a vine stick which he would
use to punish soldiers who were not marching fast
enough. He also had powers to discipline soldiers
who committed serious offences.
“An officer takes a baton and simply touches the
man with it. This is a sign to all the other soldiers
that they must stone or beat him to death.”
century BC, describing what
happened to a soldier guilty of a serious offence.
A Roman Centurion –
he wore a different
helmet to the legionary
6 Centuries made up a Cohort, run
by a Young Senator.
There were 480
soldiers in a Cohort
10 Cohorts made up a Legion. A Legate was in a
charge of a Legion. The legate had six military
tribunes (tribuni militares) to help him, who carried
out administrative duties. Young, upper-class Roman
men used this position as a stepping-stone to a
political career, so the tribunes often did not have
much military experience or ability.
There were 4800 soldiers in a legion
A legion had also a lot of doctors, trumpeters, bakers, executioners,
veterinary surgeons, novelist, writers, carpenters and blacksmiths. The
legion could provide for itself like this. Altogether a legion counts about
5500 to 6000 men.
A legion also had about 60 catapultae en ballistae (weapons).
However, the First Cohort in every Legion was made up of double centuries.
There were 160 men in the First Cohort
The Centurion of the First Century in the First Cohort was a very important
man. He had to be the son of a Senator or another important Roman
Citizen. He was called a Primipilus (number one javelin).
Every century, cohort and legion had a standard bearer,
who carried the flag of the century, cohort or legion into
battle. The standard-bearer wore animal skin over his
helmet to make him stand out.
There were about 30 Legions in the whole of the Roman
There were approximately 180000
soldiers in the Roman army
THE WHOLE ARMY!