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date: 17 August 2022



  • Brian Campbell


There is scant information for the organization of the Roman legion, which perhaps consisted of a levy of 1,000 men from each of the three ‘tribes’ (see tribus ) of the early regal period; see rex ; rome, history . By the end of the 5th cent. bce the legion numbered about 6,000 men, but *Polybius (1) , writing c.150 bce, provides the earliest detailed account of its structure, and he probably refers to the army after the war against *Hannibal (see punic wars ). The legion varied in size between 4,200 and 5,000 men subdivided into 30 maniples (see manipulus ) arranged in three lines; while light-armed troops ( *Velites ) formed a screen, the hastati (spearmen) and principes (chief men), chosen on the basis of age and experience, made up two ranks, followed by the most experienced soldiers (triarii or ‘third rank men’). The legion was supported by 300 cavalry.


  • Roman History and Historiography

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