Etymology and OverviewEdit
A Legion (Latin: Legio; to levy) was the basis from which all Roman armies were formed. Each legion was led by its respective Legatus Legionis but was under the overall command of the province since they were assigned to or the person/people they were levied by for order and the best possible strategy.
Organization and StructureEdit
Roman Kingdom - Early Roman Republic:Edit
The legion of this time period was similar to the Greek and Etruscan levy system in which soldiers would be recruited from their individual towns and villages and would buy their own armour. Depending on their equipment, they would assume two basic infantry roles, light and heavy infantry. Those that could only afford basic equipment would constitute the light infantry and those that could afford more equipment would make up the heavy infantry. The Upper Class/Nobles within Roman society would often make up the heavy infantry and cavalry.
Mid Republic - Marian ReformsEdit
Also known as the Polybian Legion. At this time, the levy system was abolished in favour of a system based upon age and experience. However, citizens were still required to purchase their own equipment. The poorest and youngest of Roman citizens would be eligible to be Velites. These were javelin wielding skirmishers who would act as a screening force to soak up enemy missiles and buy time for the legion's heavy infantry to be fully deployed. Those who could at least afford some manner of equipment but were still poor were eligible to be Hastati. These were, again, often times the younger men in Roman society. They would be armed individually with a gladius (short sword), scutum (shield), helmet (depends if they could afford it), several Pila (javelins) and depending on wealth, a square "heart-protector" or lighter variants of the Lorica Hamata (chainmail). They may have been supplied with or bought bronze helmets. These would make up the front lines of the legion after the Velites. After the Hastati were the Principes. These men were usually in their prime (late 20's) and were wealthier than those men of the Hastati. They were armed with similar equipment to the Hastati but their armour was of better quality. They would usually have worn sturdier and more durable variants of the Lorica Hamata. These were considered the more experienced men and it would be up to them to break an enemy's resolve if the line of Hastati failed to (In most cases, Hastati were usually enough to break enemy lines, as they were heavy infantry). They would be situated behind the Hastati and there would be an equal number of Principes to Hastati. The final line of infantry would consist of Triarii. These were the oldest and most seasoned troops in the Roman pre-Marian legion. They would be very wealthy and sometimes veterans of several battles (Around 1/2 or more). They would be equipped with a scutum and hastae, a 2 metre long spear (approximately). They would wear bronze helmets and would often be rich enough to afford bronze chestplates/cuirasses. They may have had entire sets of bronze armour. It was often said that in a battle if it was going poorly for the Romans it would be "Down to the Triarii". This meant that at this point, the Roman legion would be on its final toes and if the veteran Triarii could not hold the enemy forces long enough for the Romans to regroup, the battle was done. At this time period, the equites, the cavalry would be levied from the Socii (Italian allies) states of Italy and from the Equestrian social class of Rome.
The typical Roman legion (Augustan-era legion) was as following:
- Contubernium: The smallest unit within the Roman legion (equivalent to a squad), the contubernium was led by a Decanus, usually a hand-picked, seasoned soldier (may be thought of as equivalent to Corporal). It usually consisted of 8 men who would share one military tent while on the march. These men would eat, sleep and in many cases, die fighting together.
- Century: Consisting of about ten contubernia, the century (despite its name meaning "100") would most often be made up of 80 soldiers. It would be led by a Centurion (may be thought of as a lieutenant), a soldier who had risen through the ranks. The Centurion was usually one of the most experienced soldiers within the Century and was responsible for co-ordinating his men in battle and out. The Centurion would have an Optio, who would be a second in command (may be thought of as a second lieutenant) who the Centurion groomed to one day take on the position of Centurion. The core and backbone of the Century and the Legions were the Milites (sing. Miles), the regular footsoldiers/legionaries. Ultimately it was the responsibility of the Centurion and his subordinate officers, the Principales, to ensure that the men were well trained, disciplined and ready to fight.
- Cohort: Arguably the most important sub-division within the legion, the cohort consisted of 6 centuries (480 men), each commanded by their own Centurion, and was led by the most senior Centurion, the Centurio Primus Pilus, who commanded the First Century. The First Cohort was special in that it consisted of about 5, double strength centuries (800 men). Ten of these cohorts made up a legion.
In Rome there were many legions, but in New Rome there are only 12. They exist, with cohorts that rank in the legion at Camp Jupiter, in the boundaries (guarded by Terminus) where only demigods and legacies may live. The population, are called legionaires. The motto for the Twelfth Legion: Twelfth Legion Fulminata!
At Camp Jupiter, only the Twelfth Legion is mentioned, so there is little known (book wise) about the other legions. However, there were obviously more legions back in the days of Rome.