Roman Army

Ashu Arora
Mind Map by Ashu Arora, updated more than 1 year ago
Ashu Arora
Created by Ashu Arora almost 4 years ago


A mind map explaining the structure of the Roman Army and the roles of the various soldiers and leaders.

Resource summary

Roman Army
1 Legions
1.1 Cohorts
1.1.1 Centuries Before c100BC, centuries contained 100 men but after Marius' reforms, the number was reduced to 80 to make it easier ot handle the soldiers. Each cohort had around 5 or 6 centuries containing 80-160 men. Each century was commanded by a centurion (centurio) and his second-in-command was and optio. A centurion had to do many things: he was in charge of training his men and leading them to battle; he had to look after all the equipment that was brought back to their century and count it (helped by clerks);they had to carry out daily duties such as posting guards, making inspections, dealing with disciplinary problems and checking that other work was done properly. When on a march, 8 men would share a contubernium (dormitory) in each century. In a contubernium, there would be a tent and mule.
1.1.2 There would have been 10 cohorts in each legion. The 1st cohort had around 800 men in it and the other 9 each had around 500 men in them.
1.2 There would have benn around 25-35 legions in the Roman Army. The soldiers who served in legions were the elite of the Roman Army.
1.2.1 There were around 125,000-175,000 legionaries(Roman soldiers) in the Roman Army. In each legion, there would have been approximately 5,000 soldiers. Roman legionaries were all Roman citizens most of whom signed up for 20-25 years when they were between the ages of 18 and 22. Legionaries had to swear an oath when they joined the army, promising to faithful and loyal to the emperor, never to leave the line except to save another comrade's life, and to obey orders. Legionaries did not just have to fight; they had various other jobs like building camps and forts, building roads, and making weapons and armour. A legion also consisted of other skilled roles: engineers, carpenters, smiths, doctors, medical orderlies, clerks and accountants. As well as legionaries, legions contained auxiliary troops such as cavalry (horse), slingers (catapults), and archers (bow and arrow) and these troops were used at the very start of the battle because they were supposed to be "helping" troops and it wasn't too important if many of the auxiliary soldiers came from armies that had been previously defeated. Archers usually came from the East, especially from Syria and Arabia , whereas slingers are known to have come from the Balearic Islands off Spain. At the time of Emperor Trajan, there were around of 250,000 auxiliary men in the entire army. The commander of the legion was called a legatus. The legate would have been about 30 years old and was chosen by the emperor. He was helped with his tasks by tribunes and officers who were climbing up the social ladder but had no definite duties. The praefectus castorum had the job of looking after the buildings of the camps and he would command the legion when his seniors were absent. He would also help the legatus with his jobs.
1.3 Other roles in a Legion
1.3.1 The senior centurion (primus pilus) was at least 50 years old and he would have been expected to give an opinion about the battle and battle tactics before the battle began.
1.3.2 An aquilifer was a man who would carry the eagle (the badge of Rome) into battle. The eagle symbolised the power of Jupiter and it showed protection from the King of Gods
1.3.3 A signifier would wear a lion-skin or bear-skin head-dress and led the men into battle with a march
1.3.4 A tesserarius organised the guards and kept watch on the camp like a security guard. He gave a password to each soldier and they could not come in unless they gave him the right password.
1.3.5 A cornicen was a horn player who used to signal orders during a battle. They would also salute the senior officers.
2 In the early days, Rome was defended by part time soldiers. By about 100 BC, a stronger army was needed and the structure was reorganised by the Roman general, Marius who made a professional army
2.1 Pay for a soldier was the same whether the soldier was at war or not. Up until the reign of Emperor Domitian, the standard pay for a soldier was 225 denarii per annum (£12,000) but Domitian raised the pay to 300 denarii. A soldier had to pay for his food, clothing and equipment as well as other funds including saving funds and burial funds. Considering this, soldiers may have only taken home 60 denarii per annum.
2.1.1 If a soldier retired from his job, he would have gotten 3,000 denarii or some land on which he could farm or build. If a soldier rose in the ranks, his pay changed according to the number of extra responsibilities he had. For example, a centurion would get paid 1500 denarii per annum.
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