APPENDIX B

IMPERIAL ROMAN MILITARY RANKS AND THEIR MODERN-DAY EQUIVALENTS

(IN ORDER OF PRECEDENCE)

Army

Rank

Description

Equivalent

Miles gregarius

Literally, a “common soldier” of the legion.

Private

Signifer

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

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. Cavalry officer, commanding a squadron of legion cavalry. Several grades, based on length of service.

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

Six most senior “first rank” centurions of a legion, serving in the first, double cohort.

Captain

Primus pilus

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

Captain

Praefectus castrorium

Camp prefect. A former centurion, the third in command of a legion; quartermaster, and officer in charge of major detachments separated from the legion.

Major

Tribunus angusticlavius

Tribune of the thin stripe, a staff officer, serving a six-month officer cadetship.

Lieutenant colonel

Praefectus

Commander of an auxiliary cohort or wing.

Colonel

Tribunus laticlavius

Tribune of the broad stripe, second in command of a legion and commander of Praetorian/City Guard cohorts. Also called military tribune. Because of limited vacancies, Claudius appointed “supernumerary” tribunes, who didn’t serve but still moved up the promotional ladder.

Colonel

Praefectus praetoria

One of two commanders of the Praetorian Guard, of equal rank. While, nominally, prefects of the Guard held the rank of colonel, some rose through the ranks and were former centurions, while others were ex-generals. On occasion they commanded field armies.

Colonel

Legatus legionis

Legate of the legion. Legion commander. Of senatorial 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

The highest official at Rome after the emperor. 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.

Lieutenant general

Propraetor

Governor of an imperial province. A former consul. (See the glossary for details.)

Lieutenant general

Proconsul

Governor of a Senatorial Province. A former consul. (See the glossary for details.)

Lieutenant general

Navy

Miles classicus

A soldier in the marine corps.

Marine

Centurio classicus

Centurion of marines.

Lieutenant

Navarchus

Commander of a warship in the Roman navy.

Captain (naval)

Praefectus classis

Commander of Roman navy squadron or fleet.

Admiral

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!