APPENDIX A

REPUBLICAN ROMAN MILITARY RANKS, FIRST CENTURY B.C., AND THEIR MODERN-DAY EQUIVALENTS

Rank

Description

Equivalent

Miles gregarius

Literally, a “common soldier” of the legion.

Private

Signifer

Standard-bearer for legion cohort and maniple. No real authority.

Corporal

Aquilifer

Eagle-bearer of the legion. Most prestigious post for a standard-bearer.

Corporal

Tesserarius

Orderly sergeant; sergeant of the guard.

Sergeant

Optio

Second in command of a century and of a cavalry squadron. Unit training, administration, and records officer.

Sergeant major

Decurio

Decurion. Officer of Roman cavalry.

Second lieutenant

Centurio

Centurion. Officer commanding a century, maniple, and cohort. Sixty to a legion, including six primi ordines. Eleven grades, including primi ordines and primus pilus. Seniority usually determined by length of service.

First lieutenant

Primi ordines

Most senior “first rank” centurions of a legion, serving in the first cohort.

Captain

Primus pilus

Literally the “first spear,” chief centurion, a legion’s most senior centurion, one of the primi ordines.

Major

Praefectus fabricus

Originally prefect of engineers, he became the adjutant of an army commander.

Lieutenant colonel

Tribunus militaris

Military tribune, one of six officers of Equestrian Order rank who commanded a legion among them for two months each, on rotation, with the other five each commanding two cohorts of the legion.

Colonel

Quaestor

A provincial governor’s chief of staff and quartermaster. On military campaigns often given his own command. By imperial times, while he still had responsibility for military recruiting, his role became a civil one, mostly involving financial and legal affairs. Election as a quaestor also brought a Senate seat for life.

Brigadier general

Legatus

A commander of one or more legions or military detachment, of senatorial rank, a deputy of a general of consular rank.

Brigadier general

Praetor

A senior magistrate at Rome, second only to the consuls. Praetors and former praetors could command a legion and armies in the field.

Major general

Consul

A consul was the highest official at Rome. The two consuls for the year shared the presidency of the Senate and gave their names to the year. Consuls or former consuls normally commanded Roman field armies. Seniority was determined by the number of consulships held and when. For example, Pompey had held two consulships and was therefore senior to all other generals. To eclipse him, Caesar had himself voted four consulships once he was in power, to give him a total of five.

Lieutenant general

Proconsul

Governor of a Roman province. A former consul. (See the glossary for details.)

Lieutenant general

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