What Are Groups Of Soldiers Called In Ancient Rome

Groups of Soldiers in Ancient Rome

Groups of Soldiers in Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, the organization of soldiers played a crucial role in the military might and success of the Roman Empire. The Romans utilized various formations and hierarchical structures to maximize their strength and efficiency in battle. This article explores the different groups of soldiers employed by the ancient Romans and sheds light on their significance within the military system of the time.


The primary and most renowned group of soldiers in ancient Rome was the legion. A legion was a large unit consisting of thousands of men, typically around 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers. Legions formed the backbone of the Roman army and played a vital role in conquering and maintaining control over vast territories.

The legion was subdivided into smaller units called cohorts, of which there were typically ten in a legion. Each cohort, in turn, comprised three maniples, further divided into centuries. The organization and structure of legions allowed for flexibility and agility in combat, enabling the Romans to adapt to various battlefield situations.

Auxiliary Units

Aside from legions, the Romans also employed auxiliary units, which were composed of non-citizens and served as support troops. These auxiliary units consisted of cavalry, archers, slingers, and other specialized troops. These soldiers played a crucial role in augmenting the combat capabilities of the legions and providing additional tactical options in battle.

The auxiliary units were often recruited from conquered territories and were granted Roman citizenship upon completion of their service. This recruitment strategy not only helped integrate diverse cultures into the Roman Empire but also provided a means to expand the military workforce.

Centurions and Cohorts

Centurions were the backbone of the Roman army’s command structure. They were experienced and skilled soldiers who led individual centuries within the cohorts. Each legion typically had 80 centurions, and their leadership was instrumental in maintaining discipline and ensuring effective communication throughout the ranks.

Similarly, cohorts comprised a considerable number of soldiers. These units, each led by a senior centurion, formed the building blocks of a legion’s organizational hierarchy. Cohorts were responsible for executing tactical maneuvers and maintaining formation during battles.

Praetorian Guard

The Praetorian Guard was a specialized group of soldiers tasked with protecting the Roman emperors. This elite force was initially formed as a personal bodyguard for the emperors but later gained significant political influence and played a role in the politics and successions of several Roman emperors. Their loyalty was highly valued and considered crucial for the stability of the empire.

The Praetorian Guard consisted of around 10,000 soldiers and had its headquarters in Rome. Their distinctive role in safeguarding the emperors made them a symbol of power and authority.


The organization and structure of soldiers in ancient Rome were crucial to the success of the Roman Empire. Legions formed the backbone of the military, while auxiliary units provided support and specialized skills. Centurions and cohorts ensured discipline and effective command, and the Praetorian Guard protected the emperors and maintained stability within the empire. Together, these various groups of soldiers worked in harmony to establish and expand the Roman Empire’s military dominance in antiquity.

Velma Lee

Velma E. Lee is an acclaimed writer and historian. She has a deep passion for studying ancient civilizations, which is reflected in her writing. She has authored numerous articles, essays, and books on the subject which have been featured in leading publications. In addition to her writing, she has also appeared on television and radio programs to discuss her work. Velma has earned a distinguished reputation as an expert in her field and continues to explore the mysteries of ancient civilizations.

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