Glossary

Acies – ‘Line of troops’, battle order.

Aedile – Magistrate in charge of public works.

Aes – ‘Copper’.

Ala – ‘Wing’, legionary cavalry on wings of battle formation (alae pl.).

Amphora – Tall jar in which olive oil, fish sauce, wine and other products were carried and stacked in the holds of ships.

Annona – Personification of the grain supply of Rome.

Apex – Spiked cap worn by a flamen.

Aquila – ‘Eagle’, the eagle standard of a legion.

Aquilifer – Standard-bearer carrying the aquila.

Ara – Altar.

Armatura – Weapons training.

As – ‘Copper’, Roman coin worth half of one dupondius (asses pl.).

Augur – Soothsayer specializing in interpretation of bird flight.

Augustus – ‘Revered One’, honorific title voted to C. Iulius Caesar (Octavianus) and his successor Ti. Caesar.

Aureus – ‘Gold’, highest denomination gold coin worth 25 denarii (aurei pl.).

Auspex – Soothsayer specializing in interpreting flight of birds.

Auxilia – Support troops of non-Roman citizens.

Ballista – Artillery weapon throwing bolts or stones.

Bellator – ‘Warrior’, Roman war fighter (bellatores pl.).

Beneficiarius – Soldier given a special duty to perform (beneficiarii pl.).

Campidoctor – Drill sergeant.

Campus Martius – ‘Field of Mars’, a large park and recreation ground in Rome.

Capitolinus – Hill in Rome on which was built the Temple of Iupiter.

Carrus triumphalis – Decorated chariot used in a triumph.

Catapulta – Artillery weapon throwing bolts.

Censor – Magistrate in charge of the census.

Census – Assessment of taxable assets carried out every 5 years (lustum).

Centuria – ‘Century’, unit of 8 contubernia, 80 men; sixty centuries formed a Legio.

Centurio — ‘Centurion’, officer in charge of a centuria.

Clementia — ‘Clemency’, the Roman virtue of showing mercy.

Cohors – ‘Cohort’, unit of six centuries or twelve in a First Cohort (cohortes pl.).

Cohors Praetoria – ‘Praetorian Cohort’, Praetorian Guard.

Cohors Urbanus – Paramilitary police guarding the mint.

Colonia – ‘Colony’, town founded for retired legionaries.

Commilitio – ‘Fellow soldier’, a form of address to legionaries usually by a senior office (commilitiones pl.).

Confarreatio – Traditional form of wedding.

Consul – One of the two highest magistrates of the res publica, elected annually.

Contio – ‘Meeting’, an address by a magistrate to the people or the commander to his troops to present a proposal.

Contubernales – Form of address for men sharing a tent.

Contubernium – Unit of eight men sharing a tent (contubernia pl.).

Cornicen – Horn player, one of the principales in a centuria.

Cornu – Circular horn for relaying commands played by a cornicen.

Cuneus – ‘Wedge’, attack formation used by Roman army.

Curia – Senate House.

Cursus honorum – Career ladder leading to entry into the Senate as a senator.

Denarius – Silver coin, worth four sestertii (denarii pl.).

Doctor Armorum – Instructor in the use of the gladius, pilum and scutum.

Dupondius – Bronze coin, worth two asses or half a sestertius (dupondii pl.).

Dux – Leader (duces pl.).

Editor – Sponsor of the ludi or munera.

Equites – ‘Knights’, the middle or business class of Roman society.

Exercitus – Army.

Fabrica – Workshop (fabricae pl.).

Fasces – The tied bundle of rods around an axe carried by lictores as a symbol of the praetor’s high office.

Feliciter – ‘Good luck’, a wish shouted at weddings.

Feria – Public holiday and festival day (feriae pl.).

Flamen – Priest (flamines pl.).

Flammeum – Orange veil worn by the bride at a confarreatio.

Fossa – ‘Fosse’, a ditch or trench, used to mean a canal (fossae pl.).

Framea – Germanic spear or javelin (frameae pl.).

Frater – ‘Brother’, a form of address used by soldiers (fratres pl.).

Frumentarius – Commissary responsible for the military grain supply (frumentarii pl.).

Forum Romanum – Roman Forum in Rome.

Gladius – Short stabbing and thrusting weapon used by legionaries (gladii pl.).

Haruspex – Soothsayer specializing in interpreting animal entrails.

Hasta – Javelin used by Roman auxilia and cavalry.

Honesta – ‘Honesty’, the Roman virtue of respectability.

Humanitas – ‘Humanity’, the Roman virtue associated with being cultured from having a good education.

Ianus – ‘Arch’, triumphal arch.

Imago – Mask of wax made during the lifetime of a Roman citizen; military standard bearing a small statue bust of the princeps.

Imagnifer – Standard-bearer responsible for carrying the imago.

Immunis – Soldier exempt from certain duties, often a bookkeeper or clerk (immunes pl.).

Impedimenta – Baggage train.

Imperator – ‘Commander’, a title shouted by troops to a victorious leader.

Imperium maius – ‘Supreme power’, originally given to consuls, including the right to wage war.

Industria – Roman virtue of working hard.

Iumentarius – Soldier or slave responsible for baggage and animals that carried it.

Kalendae – ‘Calends’, first day of the month.

Laudatio – Eulogy.

Legatus Legionis – Commander of a Legio ‘delegated’ the imperium by Augustus.

Legio – Unit of ten cohortes, approximately 6,000 men (Legiones pl.).

Libertas – Roman virtue of independence, freedom of speech.

Liburna – ‘Liburnian’, type of ship, usually with two rows of oarsmen.

Lictor – Bodyguard of a senior magistrate: a consul had twelve, a praetor six, a propraetor five, and an aedile two (lictores pl.).

Lituus – Crooked staff used by an augur when interpreting bird flight.

Lorica hamata – Body armour made of chain or ring mail.

Lorica squamata – Body armour made of scales attached to a backing of cloth or leather.

Lorica segmentata – Body armour made of articulated metal plates (a non-Roman term coined in the sixteenth century).

Ludi – Roman blood games, held for religious observance and increasingly used to further political ends.

Maiestas – ‘Majesty’, short for maiestas minuta populi Romani, ‘the diminution of the majesty of the Roman people’, i.e. treason.

Medicus – ‘Medic’, doctor.

Miles — Common soldier, miles gregarius (milites pl.).

Moderatio – ‘Moderation’, Roman virtue of restraint from excess.

Modius – Measure of grain equivalent to a third of an amphora.

Mos maiorum – ‘The ways of the elders’, traditional values and forms of worship.

Munera – Roman blood games held for political and entertainment purposes.

Municipium – Chartered provincial Roman city.

Navis longa – ‘Long ship’, name of a bireme or trireme.

Officium – ‘Service’, the staff responsible for record keeping.

Oppidum – Town or defensible settlement often on a hill.

Onager – ‘Wild ass’, artillery weapon throwing stones.

Ovatio – Lower form of triumph awarded to a victorious commander who was permitted to ride on a horse through the streets of Rome.

Palatinus – Hill in Rome, location of homes for the Roman élite.

Paterfamilias – Legal master of the household.

Pes – ‘Foot’.

Pes Drusianus – ‘Drusian Foot’, longer than a standard Roman foot.

Pes Monetalis – ‘Monetan Foot’, standard Roman unit of measuring length.

Pietas – Roman virtue of respect for the natural order of things.

Pilum – Roman javelin used by legionaries (pila pl.).

Pompa – Procession in a religious rite or funeral.

Pompa triumphalis – Full triumph in which the triumphator rode in a chariot followed by floats displaying the captive and spoils of war.

Pontifex Maximus – ‘Chief bridge builder’, chief priest.

Praefectus – ‘Prefect’, senior officer or magistrate.

Praefectus Castrorum – ‘Camp Prefect’, third in command of a Legio.

Praefectus Equitum – ‘Prefect of Horse’, senior officer in command of a turma.

Praefectus Praetorio – Commander of the Cohors Praetoria.

Praepositus – ‘Overseer’, special envoy or governor general.

Praetor – Senior magistrate responsible for administering law, the ludi and feriae.

Praetor UrbanusChief praetor in charge of administration of law in Rome.

Praetorium – ‘Praetor’s building’, house of the senior officer of a Legio.

Primus Pilus – ‘First javelin’, the most senior centurio of a Legio.

Princeps – ‘The First One’, the title adopted by Augustus to describe his leadership position.

Princeps Praetorii – Officer in charge of the army unit’s officium.

Principalis – Non-commissioned officer of a centuria, e.g. cornicen, signifer (principales pl.).

Principia – ‘Front line’, headquarters building in a Roman fort.

Proconsul – ‘Former consul’, governor of a senatorial province.

Propraetor – ‘Former praetor’, governor of an imperial province.

Pugio – Short, leaf-shaped dagger worn by legionaries.

Quaestor – Junior magistrate in charge of law courts and public financial accounting.

Rostra — Tribunal, speaker’s platform in Forum Romanum.

Res publica – ‘Public Things’, the commonwealth of the Roman state.

Sacerdos – Priest (sacerdotes pl.).

Salutatio – Morning visit by clients to the patron.

Scutum – Roman shield (scuta pl.).

Semis – Roman coin worth half of one as.

Senatus Consultum – Decree of the Senate.

Sestertius – Brass coin, equal in value to one-quarter denarius (sestertii pl.).

Signifer – Standard-bearer carrying the centurial signum.

Signum – Unit standard (signa pl.).

Spatha – Long double-edged slashing sword used by cavalry.

Speculator – Military escort, often carrying out clandestine missions and executions (speculatores pl.).

Spolia opima – Prized spoils taken from an enemy after armed combat.

Suovetaurilia – Religious rite involving the sacrifice of a pig, sheep and bull.

Testudo – ‘Tortoise’, battle formation using shields raised over the heads.

Toga praetexta – White toga with a broad purple stripe along the curved edge.

Toga virilis – ‘Manly gown’, the all-white toga worn by Roman adult men.

Tresvir – ‘Three Man’, a board responsible for a state function, e.g. tresviri monetales, who were responsible for managing the coin supply.

Tribunus – Tribune: tribunus plebis, a representative of the people elected annually; tribunus laticlavius, the second in command of a Legio was accompanied by five junior tribuni angusticlavii.

Triumphator – The military commander awarded an ovatio or pompa triumphalis.

Triumvir – Commission of three political leaders (triumviri pl.).

Tropaeum – ‘Trophy’ made of captured weapons (tropaea pl.).

Tumulus – Cenotaph shaped like a raised circular dome (tumuli pl.).

Turma – Unit of Roman cavalry (turmae pl.).

Vexillum – Flag standard.

Vexillarius – Standard-bearer of the vexillum.

Via Praetoria – Cross road in a Roman camp leading to principia.

Via Principalis – Main street of a Roman camp.

Via Sacra – ‘Sacred Way’, the main road running through the Forum Romanum.

Virtus – ‘Manliness’, Roman virtue of courage.

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