11 Facts About Roman legions


Roman legion was the largest military unit of the Roman army, composed of 5,200 infantry and 300 equites in the period of the Roman Republic and of 5,600 infantry and 200 auxilia in the period of the Roman Empire.

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Republican Roman legions were composed of levied men that paid for their own equipment, with emphasis placed on service to the Republic as opposed to military career.

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Under the Camillan system the Roman legions were initially structured based on social class, with the poorest being the first line of the formation.

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In 494 BC, when three foreign threats emerged, the dictator Manius Valerius Maximus raised ten Roman legions which Livy says was a greater number than had been raised previously at any one time.

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Legions became more formally organised in the 4th century BC, as Roman warfare evolved to more frequent and planned operations, and the consular army was raised to two legions each.

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Roman legions justified this action to the Senate by saying that in the din of battle he could not distinguish Roman from ally.

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Roman legions created the Praetorian Guard along with a permanent navy where served the liberti, or freed slaves.

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The Roman legions became permanent at this time, and not recruited for particular campaigns.

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Legion names such as Honoriani and Gratianenses found in the Notitia suggest that the process of creating new Roman legions continued through the 4th century rather than being a single event.

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Roman legions army maintained a complex position and grading system for its soldiers that reflected the many and varied duties of the Roman legions army.

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Roman legions's comrades, fearing disgrace, 'with one accord, leapt down from the ship' and were followed by troops from the other ships.

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