The Roman Military

The strength of the Roman military was the string that held the Roman Empire together for as long as it lasted. The military was made up of strictly disciplined men whom were ready and willing to serve their emperor.
The Legions
Outward appearance was extremely important to the Romans and the first thing that new recruits learned was to march in perfect form. Once they knew how to march they were then assigned to the legions in which they would remain for the next 20 years of service. (the book) The legions were made up of between 5000 and 5500 men. In a legion there were 10 Cohorts and in those Cohorts there were 6 Centuries. Auxiliary troops, although not usually counted as part of a legion, were part of a legion and could raise the number of men from around 5000 to 6000. The number of legions active in the empire was consistently between 25 and 33. (internet, The average year for auxiliaries to serve was 25 years or less. After about 20 years in the legions they “graduated” to a veteran cohort, and continued service there for about 5 years. The soldiers who completed their 25 years of military service to Rome were given a “diploma” made of bronze. It was actually a record of their service throughout the years and a copy was kept in soldier’s files in Rome. (the book)
Equipment and Supplies
Soldiers were forced to live like turtles, carrying their “homes” (tents and such) along with them in battle. Their equipment was also a hassle, but protected them well in battle. It consisted of mainly helmets and shields. They also carried personal equipment such as shoes, belts, over garments, etc. A soldier had to carry his weapons and artillery with him as well. He had spears, pilums, and pikes to be heaved at enemies. Pilums are spear like weapons that would be thrown at enemies in an attempt to pierce them through their shields. Gladiuses (swords) and Pugios (daggers) were the common hand held weapons. The Gladius was the perfect weapon for the legions because of their light weight and maneuverability. The Pugio was not only a weapon of war, but also had many common purposes. It served as a back up for the Gladius. Soldiers also had so called “missiles” and they were bolts and stone shot objects. Although all these weapons seem so troublesome and ancient, they did help to expand and keep together the Roman Empire for a couple hundred years. (internet, and


1. Adkins, Lesley and Roy. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. Oxford University Press, New York: 1994.
2. The Book.

1., March 10, 1999.
2., March 13, 1999
3. , March 13, 1999

Category: History