The Roman army was a set of military forces employed by the Roman Kingdom,
Roman Republic and later Roman Empire as part of the Roman military. For its
main infantry constituent and for much of its history, see Roman legion; for a
catalogue of individual legions, dates and deployments, see List of Roman
legions. For the non-citizen auxiliary forces of the Roman Empire, see Roman
auxiliaries. For Rome's naval forces, see Roman Navy. The size of the army in
the late Roman Empire was about 128,000 - 179,200 men. It was very well
organized hierarchically. The main Roman soldiers in the Empire were the
legionaries. There were, of course, other soldiers in the army; these were known
as the auxilia. Auxilia were non-citizens recruited mostly from the provinces.
They were paid less than legionaries but at the end of their service they were
granted Roman citizenship.
Among Roman soldiers, the smallest organization unit was called a "contubernium".
This was a group of 8 soldiers (however originally it was made of 10), that
shared a tent and ate together. There were 10 contubernia in a "century". A
century was the next largest group of soldiers. A century was a group of
originally 100 men in the Early Roman Republic but later reduced to 80 men
during the Roman Empire. The next largest group of soldiers were called
"maniples". Next were the "cohorts". These were made up of 6 centuries (480
men). A "prima cohors" was the first cohort in a legion; it was much larger than
the other cohorts, containing about 5 double strength centuries (800-men).
Finally, the largest group in the Roman Army was the legion.There were ten
cohorts including the "prima cohors" in a legion. A full-strength legion
contained 6,000 men though it was not uncommon for most legions to be
undermanned due to previous battles. All of these numbers depended on the date
(ex. Scipio Africanus reformation, Gaius Marius reformation). The republican
army's strength, in peace, was four legions, but the number was increased during
wartime. The highest number of legions was 70 after the civil war between
Octavian (Augustus) and Mark Antony, due to having two whole Roman empires
fighting when the remainder of Antony's forces joined with Octavian's. The
number was decreased to 28 legions soon after, as the economically strained
empire could not pay such huge numbers. After the Varus disaster, only 25
In an early to mid-Republican era legionaries usually bought their own gear.
Hastati, the first line, usually had breastplates and occasionally wore lorica
hamata, or chainmail. The wealthier principes could afford lorica hamata but
they were sometimes seen wearing the cheaper cuiriasses. Both hastati and
principes were each armed with a gladius - a short, 60 centimeter sword - and
each had two pila (javelins). The Triarii's primary weapon was the hasta, a 2
meter long spear. They were also armed with the gladius and had an early form of
the lorica segmenta. All legionaries had a large rectangular shield (scutum)
which had rounded corners. By the late Republican period, all legionaries
carried a gladius, two pila, a new, larger version of the scutum, and wore
chainmail. Lorica segmenta, or the iron band armor, was only commonly worn
between the 2nd and 3rd century AD.
A set of Roman armor would include one of a variety of body armor types (usually
designed to be flexible but strong; a centurion's body armor differs from that
of the legionary), a shielders and turtlesith a special design/decoration for
each legion), leggings or greaves, an apron (for decoration and protecting the
groin, mostly made of metal), marching sandals called Caligae (with studs on the
sole), a coarse woolen tunic, a belt (showing a soldier's position/rank in the
army), and lastly a helmet called Galea (with cheek, ear and neck protection). A
helmet might have also held a crest if the Roman was an officer or of higher
rank than a peer.
* The lorica hamata is a type of chainmail crephole armor used during the Roman
Republic and Roman Empire as a standard-issue armor for both the legionaries
(higher quality version of the lorica hamata) and secondary troops (Auxilia).
* The lorica segmentata was a type of armor used in the Roman Empire between the
2nd and 3rd century AD. The armor itself consisted of broad ferrous (iron)
strips ('girth hoops') fastened to internal leather straps.
* The lorica squamata was a type of scale armor used during the Republic and at
* The Scutum, (Latin for shield), was the standard, rectangular,
semi-cylindrical shield carried by Roman legionaries during the Principate.
Republican-era scuta had the form of an oval, and in the late fourth century the
Roman Army began to exchange their rectangular scuta for oval or large circular
* The cingulum was a military belt worn at all times, even without the rest of
 Personal weapons
Modern replica of a Roman pugio.
Modern replica of a Roman pugio.
* The pugio was a small dagger.
* The gladius was the short sword, 18 to 24 inches long, used by Roman
legionaries from the 3rd century BC until the late Roman Empire. It was
primarily used for stabbing and thrusting. The gladius was made by Spaniards
* The hasta was a spear used by triarii in the times of the Republic, and also
as the primary weapon of the hastati and principes in the early Republic.
* The pilum, was a specialized javelin that would bend after being thrown to
prevent enemies from re-using it.
Additionally, in the army of the late empire, the gladius was often replaced by
a spatha (longsword), up to 1 meter long, the rectangular scutum was dropped in
favor of an oval shield, the earlier pilum had evolved into a differently shaped
javelin - lighter and with a greater range - and new weapon types such as thrown
darts (plumbatae) were introduced. (Santosuosso, A., Soldiers, Emperors and
Civilians in the Roman Empire, Westview, 2001, p. 190)
The ballista was a powerful ancient crossbow, although employing several loops
of twisted skeins to power it, it used torsion (instead of a prod). Early
versions ejected heavy darts or spherical stone projectiles of various sizes. It
developed into a smaller sniper weapon, the Scorpio.
A catapult is any siege engine which uses an arm to hurl a projectile a great
distance, though the term is generally understood to mean medieval siege
weapons. Projectiles included both arrows and (later) stones.
(Latin: gladiatōrēs, "swordsmen" or "one who uses a sword," from gladius,
"sword") were professional fighters in ancient Rome who fought against each
other, wild animals, and condemned criminals, sometimes to the death, for the
entertainment of spectators. These fights took place in arenas in many cities
from the Roman Republic period through the Roman Empire.