The Roman Army

Essay by lovinemi7College, UndergraduateA+, March 2006

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The Roman Ability to basically conquer half of the world, from their beginnings as a small city on the Italian peninsula is amazing. Most of their success is based solely on their military might. The Roman army was officially deemed professional in the year 13 BC, when Augustus laid out the regular period of legionary service at sixteen years. This term of service was to be followed by a four-year term of service exempt from daily duties. The veterans were under the command of the curator veteranorum. During the early days of the republic, there was little military force in or near the actual city of Rome. First, there was the Praetorian Guard, and later there were the urban cohorts. These forces were, for the most part, under the immediate direction of the emperor. The majority of the soldiers in the imperial roman army were, in fact, legionaries.

A legion was made up of an estimated 5,500 men. With somewhere between 28 and 30 legions, that makes some 160,000 men. This is said to account for about fifty percent of the armed forces as a whole. It should be duly noted that the number of legions was always changing. The Praetorian guardsmen were definitely favored by the emperor, seeing as they were the protector of the city, and most importantly, him.

The army regulars were jealous of the praetorian's double pay, and shorter term of service. There was a third considerable force of men, the auxiliaries. The basis of this force is in the times of the late republic, when units were recruited from groups raised outside of Italy. Auxiliary forces were organized into cohorts of five hundred, and occasionally, there were double size units of one thousand men. The auxiliaries were paid, and their numbers were not...