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lĕgĭō, (5) ōnis, f. (lego 2), ¶ 1 légion, corps de troupe [comptant à partir de Marius environ 6 000 h., répartis en 10 cohortes ; chaque cohorte comprenant 3 manipules et 6 centuries ; les légions étaient désignées soit par un no dʼordre, soit par le nom ou de celui qui lʼavait levée ou dʼune divinité, soit par un surnom] : Varro L. 5, 87 ; Cic. , Cæs. , Liv. , Tac. , etc. ¶ 2 [poét.] armée : Pl. Most. 129 ; Epid. 58 ; Virg. En. 9, 368 || [fig.] legiones parat Pl. Cas. 50, il rassemble ses troupes, dresse ses batteries.
In the time of Romulus, the united armed forces of Rome went by the name of legio. The legion then consisted of 300 knights (celeres), under the command of a tribunus celerum, appointed by the king, and 3000 foot soldiers, under the command of three tribuni militum. Each of the three ancient tribes provided a third of this force and one tribune. With the increase of the military forces of Rome the name of legio was given to each of the subdivisions equivalent in numbers to the original army. The military system of King Servius Tullius made the infantry the most important part of the military forces, instead of the cavalry as heretofore. The five classes included in the census (q. v.) were obliged to serve in the army at their own expense; those who were not comprised in these classes—viz. the proletarii—were freed from service, and, when they were enlisted, received their equipment from the State. The iuniores, those who were from 17 to 46 years old, were appointed for field service, and the seniores, those from 47 to 60, for the defence of the city. The first and second lines of the legion, drawn up in unbroken order like the Greek phalanx, consisted of citizens of the first class, equipped with helmet, cuirass, round shield (clipeus), and greaves, all of bronze. The third and fourth lines were from the second class, and had no cuirass, but had the helmet and greaves and large oblong shields (scutum). The fifth and sixth were armed similarly, but without greaves, and were drawn from the third class. The fourth class was armed with the scutum as its only weapon of defence, but, like the others, provided with spear (hasta) and sword. It either filled the seventh and eighth lines, or, with the fifth class, formed the rorarii, who opened the battle with slings and other light missiles. An important alteration, ascribed to Camillus (about B.C. 390), was the abolition of the phalanx and introduction of the manipular formation, which prevailed till the time of Marius (end of the second century B.C.). In the flourishing days of the Republic, the normal strength of a legion, which could be increased in time of need, consisted of 300 knights (equites) and 4200 foot soldiers (pedites). In respect to the weapons used, the latter were divided into four kinds, according to their length of service and familiarity with warfare: (1) 1200 hastati, all in early manhood; (2) 1200 principes, in the full vigour of life; (3) 600 triarii, who were proved veterans; and (4) 1200 velites, who were lightly armed, and were drawn from the lowest classes of the census. The first three classes had a bronze helmet (cassis) with a lofty plume of feathers, a scutum, a leathern cuirass (lorica, q. v.), greaves, and a sword (gladius), which, after the Second Punic War, was of the Spanish kind, being short, strong, and two-edged, fitted for thrusting rather than cutting, and worn on the right side. There was also a spear, which in the first two divisions was a pilum (q. v.), and among the triarii a lance (Polyb. vi. 23). The velites were armed with a leather helmet (galea), a light shield (parma), and a sword and several light javelins. The 3000 heavily armed men were divided into 30 manipuli, numbering 120 men each among the hastati and principes, and 60 each among the triarii, and were again subdivided into two bodies called centuriae, and led by centurions (q. v.). Of the 1200 velites, 20 were allotted to each century, and they formed the final complement of each maniple. On the field of battle the maniples were drawn up in open order, separated laterally from one another by intervals corresponding to the breadth of each maniple in front. The arrangement of the maniples would thus resemble that of the black squares on a chess-board. They fell into three divisions—the hastati in the front rank, with the principes behind them, and the triarii in the rear. If the first division, the hastati, were compelled to give way, then the second division, the principes, advanced through the intervals left by the maniples of the first division; if the principes, in their turn, had to retreat, then the third division, the triarii, who had been previously kneeling, protected by their shields, allowed the hastati and principes to fall back into the intervals separating the maniples of the triarii, and themselves, closing their ranks, pressed forward to meet the enemy. The 300 knights of the legion were divided into 10 turmae of 30 men each, and were equipped with a bronze cuirass, leathern greaves, helmet, shield, a long sword for attacking, and a long lance provided at both ends with an iron point. Each turma was under three decurions and three under-officers (optiones). The legion, as a whole, was under the command of six tribuni militum (q. v.). The consular army consisted of two legions. Four legions were regularly levied in each year; in other words, 16,800 foot soldiers and 1200 cavalry. This levy of citizens was further swelled by the Italian allies (socii), a body of 20,000 foot soldiers and 3600 cavalry, thus adding to each of the two consular armies 10,000 foot soldiers and 1800 cavalry. The former were in twenty cohorts (see Cohors), each consisting of 420 men. Ten of these cohorts fought on the right wing and ten on the left wing of the legions. Besides these, four cohorts of 400 men each were formed into a picked body. The cavalry were in six squadrons (alae) of 300 men each. Four of these belonged to the main army, and two to the picked body. In wars beyond the limits of Italy there were also auxiliary forces (auxilia), consisting either of soldiers raised in the country where the war was being carried on, or of light-armed troops furnished by allied kings and nations. Besides the ordinary component parts of the legion there was also the bodyguard of the commander-in-chief, the cohors praetoria. See Cohors. In the course of the first century B.C. the organization of the legion was essentially altered. In the first place, in the time of Marius, the census ceased to be the basis of the levy, and all the citizens collectively were placed on the same footing in respect to their military service and the uniform which they wore. All the soldiers of the legion alike received the heavy equipment and the pilum, while the light-armed velites were done away with. After the right of citizenship had been conferred on the Italian allies, these no longer formed a separate part of the legions, but were incorporated with them. Thus the Roman army now consisted only of heavy-armed legions and of light-armed auxiliary troops. The latter were partly raised in the provinces and divided into cohorts, and partly enlisted as slingers and archers. The cavalry of the legions ceased to exist. Like the light-armed soldiers, the whole of the cavalry consisted of auxiliary troops, who were partly enlisted and partly levied from the provinces, while some were supplied according to agreement by allied nations and princes. A further important novelty introduced by Marius was the use of the cohort-formation, instead of the maniple-formation, which broke up the front too much. The legion was now divided into ten cohorts, in each of which there were three maniples of hastati, principes, and triarii, designations which now only concerned the relative rank of the six centurions of the cohort. The customary battle array was in three divisions, the first being formed of four cohorts, and the second and third of three each. Again, while in earlier times the obligation of service extended at the most in the infantry to twenty campaigns and in the cavalry to ten, from the days of Marius the soldier remained uninterruptedly for twenty years with the army, an earlier dismissal being only exceptional. For this reason the well-to-do classes sought to withdraw themselves from the general military service, and it thus came to pass that the legions were for the greater part manned by means of conscriptions from the lowest ranks of the burgher population of Italy, in which the service was regarded simply as a means of livelihood. Thus from the original army of citizens there was gradually developed a standing army of mercenaries. Under the Empire we find what is really a standing army, bound to the emperor by oath. (See Sacramentum.) Apart from the legions this army consisted of the auxilia (q. v.), the guards stationed in Rome and the neighbourhood (see Praetoriani), and the city-cohorts (see Cohors), the artillery and the corps of workmen (see Fabri), the marines (see Classiarii), and the municipal and provincial militia. The legions are now once more provided with a corps of cavalry 120 strong, and are designated not only by numbers, but also by distinctive names. Together with the auxiliary troops they form the garrison of the imperial provinces under the command of the imperial legati legionum (see Legati), whose place was taken in the middle of the third century A.D. by the praefecti legionum. (See Praefecti.) The strength of the legion now amounted to 5000-6000 men, raised partly by a regular levy, partly by drawing recruits from the Roman citizens of all the provinces beyond the bounds of Italy. As under the Republic, it was divided into 10 cohorts of 6 centuries each; the first cohort was, however, twice the strength of the remainder. It was not until the second half of the third century A.D. that a new division of the 10 cohorts into 55 centuries came into use, with 10 centuries in the first cohort, and 5 in each of the rest. At the death of Augustus, the number of the legions was 25; it was then increased to 30, and this number was maintained until the end of the second century, when three new legions were added by Septimius Severus. From the beginning of the fourth century it gradually rose to about 175, each of them, however, mustering a considerably smaller contingent. In course of time, and especially after the second century, owing to the conflicts with the barbarians, the legion was drawn up more and more after the manner of the Greek phalanx, without intervals in its line and with a division of troops in its rear. In its equipment there was an important alteration beginning with the second half of the third century, when all the soldiers of the legion carried long swords (spathae), and the first five cohorts two pila, one larger and another smaller, while the last five had lanceae, or javelins serving as missiles, and fitted with a leather loop to help in hurling them with precision. See Pfitzner, Geschichte der röm. Kaiserlegionen (Leipzig, 1881). The military music of the Romans was provided by tubicines (see Tuba), cornicines (see Cornicen), bucinatores (see Bucina), and liticines (see Lituus). The accompanying illustration from the Column of Trajan represents the soldiers of a legion on the Roman Legionaries on the March. (Relief from the Column of Trajan, Rome.) march, carrying their helmets close to the right shoulder, and their “kit” at the top of a pole resting on the left. On standards or ensigns, see Signum; Vexillum. On levy, oath of allegiance, pay, and discharge from service, see Delectus; Missio; Sacramentum; Stipendium. For the army as a whole, see Brissaud, De l'Organization Militaire chez les Romains (Paris, 1891); and Exercitus.