List of ranks and branches of service in the Roman army

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The ranks and types of service in the Roman army are listed as far as known. The period includes the republic , the imperial era and late antiquity .


In the late imperial era , the following higher officer titles were added:

Lower-ranking officers and non-commissioned officers

Lower-ranking officers and NCOs are known as principals . They include:

  • Aquilifer ; since the army reform of Marius the highest-ranking standard bearer of the legion, he wore the legionary eagle
  • Beneficiarius ; some sort of secretary in the Legion
  • Cornicularius ; He was used as an orderly officer and in this function led the administrative staff of senior officers. In the rank he was under a legionary centurion and above the Actuarius .
  • Decurio ; in the early days of the republic the leader of a group of ten legionaries (infantry) or horsemen, (later: see officers)
  • Imaginifer ; in the imperial era the bearer of a portrait of the ruling emperor
  • Optio ad spem (ordinis) / Optio spei; a higher-ranking Optio centuriae , who waited as a candidate for the next vacancy as a centurion and was able to represent it. There were a number of optio ranks such as the optio scholae which could also be assigned to ordinary soldiers as special tasks in the form of ad hoc optiones .
  • Signifer ; the bearer of the signum (a standard used by a centurion )
  • Tesserarius ; the head of the guardroom of a centurion
  • Vexillarius ; the bearer of the vexillum (a standard used by various entities)


At the time of the republic , Roman citizens were divided into income classes by the census . Since the conscript had to procure his weapons and equipment himself, the census also determined the allocation to the respective troop unit, which was then differently well equipped depending on the soldiers' ability. The soldiers were therefore subdivided as follows:

  • Hastatus ; a lightly armed man, equipped with a thrust lance (see Hasta ), later with 2 javelins, sword and shield
  • Princeps ; a heavily armed man, equipped with a thrust lance (later with 2 javelins), sword, body armor and shield
  • Triarius ; a heavily armed man, armed with a spear, sword, body armor and shield

The armament of the legionnaires was standardized through the army reform of Marius , the aforementioned troop units then no longer differed in terms of equipment for a long time, but the soldiers were assigned to them with increasing experience and seniority.

  • Veles ; a lightly armed man, armed with several light javelins and a small shield

other lightly armed men:

  • Antesignanus ; equipped with light javelins and a small shield
  • Rorarius ; equipped with light javelins and slingshot

In the cavalry, the smallest unit was the tower and the higher-level unit was the ala . In the imperial era there were the following specially equipped riders:


  • Evocatus ; a veteran who has voluntarily returned to military service after the end of his regular service
  • Explorator ; some kind of scout or scout
  • Ferentarius ; a lightly armed man of the imperial era
  • Speculator ; some kind of scout or scout
  • Tiro ; the recruit in training before joining the army as Miles


The Aeneatores were responsible for sending orders. They include:

The Immunes were exempt from normal duty and heavy labor . Often they were specialists such as:

  • Actuarius ; Provisioners, responsible for supplying troops. If the Actuarii came from the ranks of the military during the principate, they were also purely civil servants in the barracks in late antiquity.
  • Architectus; builder
  • Ballistrarius; Gun operation
  • Capsarius ; paramedic
  • Fabrius; Blacksmith
  • Ferrarius; Iron smith
  • Gubernator; Helmsman
  • Lapidarius; Stonemason
  • Librarius; Clerk
  • Medicus: doctor
  • Mensor ; land surveyor
  • Naupegus; Shipbuilders
  • Sagittarius; Archer or arrow maker

There were also the following soldiers or civilians with special tasks:

  • Cacula; an officer boy
  • Custos armorum ; a blacksmith who was responsible for the repair and production of hand weapons
  • Frumentarius ; originally a soldier who was responsible for the procurement of food
  • Mulio ; a muleteer who was responsible for the mule and the tent of a contubernium (tent community of eight men)
  • Pabulator ; a soldier who was responsible for obtaining feed for the farm animals
  • Strator ; a groom


At the time of the republic the army was structured as follows:

  • Legio ; 4,200 Roman citizens, divided into 1,200 Velites, 1,200 Hastati, 1,200 Principes and 600 Triarii. There were also 300 riders.
  • Manipel ; consisting of two centuries
  • Centurie ; originally 100, later 80 men

After the army reform of Marius and in the (early) imperial period, the army was structured as follows:

  • Legio; 5–6,000 men in ten cohorts. There were also 120 riders.
  • Cohort ; consisting of three manipulas
  • Manipel
  • Centurie

In addition, there were independent cavalry units such as Ala quingenaria and Ala milliaria (see Ala ) as well as auxiliary groups .

Furthermore, there were guard units in the imperial era :

After their dissolution in 312, the following guard troops were formed in late antiquity :

In the late Imperial Era, the Roman army changed fundamentally. An old legion was often divided into several new units ( vexillations ) and sometimes changed its name. Some of their vexillations were now often listed as separate legions in the troop lists (see Notitia dignitatum ). The new units were basically differentiated as follows:

  • Comitatenses ; a cavalry army detached from the border army as a mobile intervention force
  • Limitanei ; Units stationed directly at the border

As part of border security, there were also small, mostly independently operating auxiliary troops for security and reconnaissance missions (see number ).


The annual remuneration of the soldiers (in Denarii ) is given as follows:

rank 13 BC Chr. 83 AD 197 ad 212 AD 235 AD
Soldier in an auxiliary force unit 187.5 250 500 750 1,500
Soldier in a legion 225 300 600 900 1,800
Rider in a Cohors equitata 225 300 600 900 1,800
Rider in an ala 262.5 350 700 1,050 2,100
Rider in a legion 262.5 350 700 1,050 2,100
Centurion in an auxiliary unit 937.5 1,250 2,500 3,750 7,500
Decurio in a Cohors equitata 1,125 1,500 3,000 4,500 9,000
Decurio in an ala 1,312.5 1,750 3,500 5,250 10,500
Centurion in a legion 3,375 4,500 9,000 13,500 27,000
Primi Ordines 6,750 9,000 18,000 27,000 54,000
Primus pilus 13,500 18,000 36,000 54,000 108,000

In the case of the teams, the indication of the pay refers to a single soldier ( Miles gregarius ) and an immunis . The principales , on the other hand, received a higher pay: a sesquiplicarius received 1.5 times the pay , a duplicarius double the pay.

The Cornicularius or Librarius of the unit was responsible for the payment of wages and the administration of the accounts . A certain amount was deducted from the pay to be paid out for various expenses. In addition, the soldier had to save part of his pay in the cash register of the unit ( in deposito ). The amount of these deductions is estimated at 40 to 80 percent. How the pay was paid exactly (whether in precious metal, bronze money or mixed) is controversial. In addition to their regular pay, the soldiers occasionally received donativa ; these were probably paid for in gold. An inscription shows that an officer was paid in gold.

The annual pay was given to the soldiers in three payments, on January 1st, May 1st and September 1st. In addition to the pay, there were also other cash payments for separate expenses; for example, a case is known from AD 179 in which riders of the Ala Veterana Gallica received an annual pitch of 25 denarii.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Yann Le Bohec : The Roman Army: from Augustus to Constantine the Elder. Size , Steiner, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-515-06300-5 , p. 51.
  2. CIL 13, 06598 .
  3. a b Konrad Stauner : The "Cornicularius" in the offices of the comital and ducal commanders in the "Notitia dignitatum" . In: Tyche. Contributions to ancient history, papyrology and epigraphy . Volume 25, 2010; here: p. 138.
  4. Martin Mosser: The stone monuments of the Legio XV Apollinaris . Research Society Wiener Stadtarchäologie, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-902086-09-2 , p. 69.
  5. Irene-Maria Cervenka-Ehrenstrasser: Lexicon of Latin loanwords in the Greek-language documentary texts of Egypt with consideration of Coptic sources . Fascicle 1, (= messages from the papyrus collection of the Austrian National Library 27) Hollinek, Vienna 1996. p. 65.
  6. ^ A b David Benjamin Cuff: The auxilia in Roman Britain and the Two Germanies from Augustus to Caracalla: Family, Religion and "Romanization". (PDF 3.1 MB, pp. 126–128 (116–118)) University of Toronto Department of Classics, 2010, accessed on October 26, 2016 (English).
  7. Inscription ( CIL 13, 3162 ).
  8. Rahel Otte: Fundmünzen aus dem Bonner Legionlager - Die Ausgrabungen 2013 and 2014 , In: Bonner Jahrbücher 216, 2016, p. 31–55, here p. 43–48 ( online ).
  9. ^ Michael Alexander Speidel : Roman Army Pay Scales. , Special print from: MA Speidel, Heer und Herrschaft im Römischen Reich der Hohen Kaiserzeit, Stuttgart 2009, pp. 349–380, here pp. 349, 356 ( online ).