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Classical Armies

Military Organization of Greek & Roman Armies

 

This includes military organization up through the Roman Republic.  The Imperial and Byzantine era armies will be coming eventually, but the format was so irregular that I had to skip them for the present.


Greek Armies:

 

'Standard' Troops:

Hoplite lit. armored; a heavy infantryman.  Armament: doru (spear), aspis 

(round 'Argive shield'), linothorax (linen cuirass) or thorax (bronze 

cuirass), bronze helmet, greaves, bracers, xiphos (short sword) or 

kopis (chopping sword)

Peltast lit. light shield-man; a javelin-thrower or skirmisher.  Armament: 

2-3 akontia (javelins), pelte (wicker shield), leather helmet, xiphos 

(short sword).

 

'Standard' Phalanx

Officers:

Enomotarch leader of enomotia

Ouragos rear-ranker, officer in charge of keeping the lines dressed and that 

nobody runs away, not unlike a Napoleonic sergeant

Lochagos leader of a lochos, also serves as enomotarch of the right-hand 

enomotia

Pentekonter 2nd in command of a lochos, also serves as enomotarch of the 

right-hand enomotia of the left-hand pair of enomotiai

 

Athenian Army

Additional officers:

Strategos General, in Athens the leader of the the whole army consisting of 10 taxeis

Taxiarch Leader of a taeis, also serves as lochagos for the right-hand lochos

 

Army units

Enomotia lit. sworn band;  25 hoplites, 3 ranks of 8 with an ouragos in the 

rear; the enomotarch leads from the first rank on the right.

Lochos four enomotiai or 100 hoplites

Taxis 10 lochoi or 1,000 hoplites (the number of lochoi in a taxis was 

variable, usually from 6 to 10)

Phalanx 10 taxeis or 10,000 hoplites (depending on the number of lochoi in 

each of the 10 taxeis); this was essentially a field army

 

Spartan Army

Additional Officers:

Basileis king; there were two kings in Sparta, and each could be leader of 

the army, though one usually stayed in the city while the other led 

the field army

Polemarch leader of a mora

 

Army Units:

Enomotia lit. sworn band; 24 hoplites, 3 ranks of 8 hoplites with the leader 

(enomotarch) at the front right-hand position

Pentekostyes 2 enomotiai; 48 hoplites

Lochos 2 pentekostyes; 96 hoplites

Mora 6 lochoi; 576 hoplites

Phalanx 6 morae; 3,456 hoplites

 

Macedonian Army

Standard troops:

Agriane light infantryman, javelin-thrower.  Armament: 2-3 akontia 

(javelins), aspis (round 'Argive Shield'), bronze helmet, xiphos (short 

sword).

Hetairos lit. comrade, companion.  A royal cavalryman.  Armament: sarissa 

(lance, a shortened version), linothorax (linen cuirass) or thorax 

(bronze cuirass), pterygs (thigh armor), bronze open-faced helm, 

greaves,  xiphos (short sword) or kopis (chopping sword).

Hypaspist lit. shield-bearer; medium infantryman.  Armament: doru (speark), 

aspis (round 'Argive shield'), bronze helmet, spolas (linen or leather 

armor), greaves, xiphos (short sword) or kopis (chopping sword).

Phalangite lit. one who fights in a phalanx; also called a hetairos or companion 

like a royal cavalryman. Armament: sarissa (16-foot pike), aspis

(round rimless shield), linothorax (linen cuirass) or thorax (bronze 

cuirass),  bronze helm, greaves,  xiphos (short sword) or kopis 

(chopping sword).

Tarentine Mounted javelin-thrower.  Armament:  2-3 akontia (javelins), aspis 

(round 'Argive Shield), bronze helmet, xiphos (short sword).

 

Army Officers & Ranks:

Epistates Ordinary ranker; similar to a private; the epistates stands 

immediately behind every type of leader.  However if an epistates 

is positioned at the end of a half or quarter file then he is 

considered the 2nd in command of that file.

Protostates Front-ranker of a 2-man eighth file

Enomotarch Leader of an enomotia or quarter file

Hemilochites Leader of a hemilochion or half file

Ouragos Rear-guard & 2nd in command of lochos (file)

Lochos Leader of a lochos or 16-man file

Dilochites Leader of a dilochion or 2 16-man files

Tetrarch Leader of a tetrarchy or 4 16-man files

Taxiarch Leader of a taxis or 8 16-man files

Syntagmatarch Leader of a syntagma or speira of 16 16-man files (also Speirarch)

Pentekosiarch Leader of a pentekosiarchy of 32 16-man files

Chiliarch Leader of a chiliarchy of 64 16-man files

Merarch Leader of a merachy of 128 16-man files

Phalangarch Leader of a phalangarchy of 256 16-man files

Kerarch Leader of a keras of 512 16-man files

Strategos General; leader of the phalanx of 1024 16-man files.

 

 

Army Units (Infantry):

Enomotia 4 phalangites--a quarter file

Hemilochion 8 phalangites--a half file or two enomotiai (also known as a dekas)

lochos 16 phalangites--a file of 16 or 2 hemilochia

dilochion 32 phalangites--2 files or 2 lochoi

tetrarchy 64 phalangites --4 files or 2 dilochia

taxis 128 phalangites--8 files or 2 tetrarchies

syntagma 256 phalangites--16 files or 2 taxeis (also known as a speira)

pentekosiarchy 2 syntagmas--32 files  or 512 phalangites

chiliarchy 2 pentekosiarchies--64 files or 1024 phalangites

merachy 2 chiliarchies--128 files or 2048 phalangites

phalangarchy 2 merachies--256 files or 4096 phalangites (also Strategia)

keras 2 phalangarchies--512 files or 8192 phalangites 'wing'

phalanx 2 kerae--1024 files or 16348 phalangites

 

Army Units (Cavalry):

Ila 210 cavalrymen; later 231 cavalrymen, and could be up to 300 

cavalrymen.  These numbers allow for a wedge formation.

Hetairoi 8 ilai "The Companions"

Hipparchy 6 ilai; a formation used later after reorganizing the cavalry with 

slightly larger ilai.  Alexander's heir again used 8 ilai in the 

hipparchy, but with the increased size of each retained.

 

 

Roman Republican Army:

 

Troops of the Roman Republican Armies: 

Accensius (pl. Accensi) Lit. reserve. 

Least reliable veteran legionary of the lower 

class, element of the army furthest from the enemy behind 

the rorarii.  Armament: hasta (spear), gladius hispaniensis 

('Spanish' short sword), scutum (oblong shield), pectorale 

(bronze heart-guard), single bronze greave, bronze helmet.  

Though officially expected to be armed as a Triarius, many 

Accensi would not have been able to afford armor, and may 

have had only the scutum for protection.

Equitus (pl. Equites)

Horseman, often translated as knight.

 

Hastatus (pl. Hastati) Lit. spearman. 

The youngest, least experienced legionaries, 

forming the first lines.  Armament: pila (avelins), gladius 

hispaniensis ('Spanish' short sword), scutum (oblong shield), 

pectorale (bronze heart-guard), single bronze greave, 

bronze helmet.  Later all hastati replaced the pectorale with 

a lorica hamata (chain-mail tunic).

 

Leve (pl. Leves)

Early republican skirmisher.  Armament: 3 hastae velitaris

(light javelins), pugio (dagger), parma (light round shield)

 

Princeps (pl. Principes) Lit. first. 

Legionaries in the prime of life, mid twenties to 

early thirties. They form behind the hastati despite the 

name. Armament:  2 pila (avelins), gladius hispaniensis 

('Spanish' short sword), scutum (oblong shield), pectorale 

(bronze heart-guard), single bronze greave, bronze helme. 

Later all principes replaced the pectorale with a lorica 

hamata (chain-mail tunic).

 

Rorarius (pl. Rorarii)

Secondary older veteran legionary, less solid than the 

triarius, and lining up behind the triarii.  Armament: hasta 

(spear), gladius hispaniensis ('Spanish' short sword), scutum 

(oblong shield), pectorale (bronze heart-guard), single 

bronze greave, bronze helmet.

 

Triarius (pl. Triarii) Lit. third ranker. 

Older veteran legionary of the middle 

class.  Armament: hasta (spear), gladius hispaniensis 

('Spanish' short sword), scutum (oblong shield), pectorale 

(bronze heart-guard), single bronze greave, bronze helmet.  

Those who could afford it wore a lorica hamata (chain-mail 

tunic), and in later Republican times the lorica hamata 

became the standard.

 

Officers of the Roman Repbulican Armies:

Centurion, elected:

Centurion, nominated:

Centurion, primus pilus:

Consul:

Cornicen: Trumpeter

Optio (pl. Optiones) Centurion's lieutenant, rearguard officer

Signifer: Standard-bearer

Tessarius: Guard commander (from tessera, a password tablet)

Tribune:

Vexillarius: Standard-bearer of a vexillum

 

 

Units of of the Early Roman Republic:

Century (pl. Centuries) of Accensi

20 accensi

Officers:

Commander--Optio

Century of Hastati or Principes

60 hastati or principes, 20 leves

Officers:

Commander--Centurion

Optio

Cornicen

Century of Rorari

20 rorarii

Officers:

Commander--Optio

Century of Triarii

20 triarii

Officers:

Commander--Centurion

Optio

Cornicen

Legion

15 maniples of hastati, 15 maniples of principes, 15 maniples of triarii.

Commander--Consul

Tribunes

Primus pilus 'first spear.' (led the first maniple of triarii)

Maniple (pl. Maniples)

2 centuries of hastati or principes

Officers:

Commander--Elected Centurion

Nominated Centurion

Signifer

Ordo (pl. Ordines)

3 vexilla

Commander--Ordinary

Vexillum (pl. Vexilla)

1 century each of triarii, rorarii and accensi

Officers:

Commander--Elected Centurion

Nominated Centurion

Vexillarius

 

Units of the Later Roman Republic:

Century of Hastati or Principes

60 hastati or principes, 20 velites

Officers:

Commander--Centurion

Optio

Cornicen

Century of Triarii

30 triarii, 20 velites

Officers:

Commander--Centurion

Optio

Cornicen

Cohort:

1 maniple each of hastati, principes and triarii.

Officers:

Commander--Primus pilus

Originally a temporary division for special duties.

Legion:

10 Maniples of Hastati, 10 Maniples of Principes, 

10 Maniples of Triarii, 10 turmæ of equites

Officers: 

Commander--Consul

6 Tribunes

Primus pilus

Maniple of Hastati or Principes

2 centuries of hastati or principes

Officers: 

Commander--Centurion Prior

Centurion Posterior (2nd Century)

Signifer

Maniple of Triarii:

2 centuries of Triarii

Officers: 

Commander--Centurion Prior

Centurion Posterior (2nd Century)

Signifer

Squadron: 10 equites

Officers: 

Commander--Decurion

Optio

Turma:

3 squadrons of equites

Officers:

Commander--Decurion Prior

 

Ally Contingent:

30 Maniples of Infantry, 30 Turmæ of Cavalry

Officers: 3 Præfecti

 

Military Organization of Greek & Roman Armies