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Officers of Infantry and Cavalry

The Principes, Hastati, and Triarii, each elect ten
Election of Centurions.
centurions according to merit, and then a second ten each. All these sixty have the title of centurion alike, of whom the first man chosen is a member of the council of war. And they in their turn select a rear-rank officer each who is called optio. Next, in conjunction with the centurions, they divide the several orders (omitting the Velites) into ten companies each, and appoint to each company two centurions and two optiones; the Velites are divided equally among all the companies; these companies are called orders (ordines) or maniples (manipuli), or vexilla, and their officers are called centurions or ordinum ductores.1 Each maniple selects two of their strongest and best born men as standard-bearers (vexillarii). And that each maniple should have two commanding officers is only reasonable; for it being impossible to know what a commander may be doing or what may happen to him, and necessities of war admitting of no parleying, they are anxious that the maniple may never be without a leader and commander. When the two centurions are both on the field, the first elected commands the right of the maniple, the second the left: if both are not there, the one who is commands the whole. And they wish the centurions not to be so much bold and adventurous, as men with a faculty for command, steady, and of a profound rather than a showy spirit; not prone to engage wantonly or be unnecessarily forward in giving battle; but such as in the face of superior numbers and overwhelming pressure will die in defence of their post.

1 Polybius does not mention the subdivision of maniples into centuries, for which the word ordines is sometimes used. Livy, 8, 8; 42, 34.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 33.9
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ORDO
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SIGNA MILITARIA
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 34
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