As Trajan - military standards
TRAJAN. AE As. Rome, 105-107 AD
Obv. IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V PP Laureated head right
Rev. SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI SC Legion standard (Aquila) between Cohort standard and Maniple standard.
RIC II 588; BMCRE 946A; Cohen 579.
'the Senate and Roman people to the best prince'
Representation of the standards in use in the Roman army, at the different levels of the legion: legion (eagle)/cohort/maniple (hand).
Standards of the Roman army:
2. Vexillatio (legion's detachment of one or two cohorts)
5. Auxiliary unit
6. Imago (of the emperor)
7. Draco (late empire)
[I]The Imperial legion had a paper strength of about 5,000 soldiers, but again, actual numbers were often far below this. During the early stages of the Illryian Revolt (AD 6-9) the Twentieth Legion was at only half strength when it won a striking victory against 20,000 of the enemy (Vell. Pat. 2.112.2).
What we can say with certainty of the legions of both periods is that they were divided into ten cohorts, and that each cohort was made up of six centuries divided between three maniples (cf Aul. Gell. NA 16.4.6).In the Early Imperial legion the century numbered 80 men, divided into ten contubernia (Hyg. De. Mut. Castr. 1). The eight soldiers of a contubernium formed a mess and tent group, and it has been suggested that they would form a file in the battle line, but there is no ancient evidence to confirm this.
The legion that preceded the cohortal formation was composed of 30 maniples and divided into three battle lines each of ten maniples. The first and second battle lines — the hastate — 'spearmen', although by now they fought with heavy javelins called pila), and principes — 'best men') — were organized into maniples each of 120 or 160 men. The triarii — 'third line men') — veterans equipped with thrusting spears — were always organized in maniples of 60 men. Each maniple was officered by two centurions (centurio — 'commander of 100'), one senior and one junior. The senior centurion was in overall command, but in battle the control of the left side of the maniple was delegated to the junior, who would assume complete command if the senior was incapacitated or killed. As well as two centurions, the maniple had two optiones to keep order at the rear of the maniple, and two standard–bearers (signiferi) (Polyb. 6.21-25).
The maniple would also have had at least one trumpeter. The standards provided a visual focus for advance or retreat; the trumpet provided audible signals and relayed commands from the general's trumpeters to the standard–bearers. Despite the duplication of officers and 'NCOs' (this term is convenient, though not really appropriate for the Roman army), the maniple was not divided tactically into two centuries: it was a single fighting unit. Polybius emphasizes that the pairing of officers was so that the maniple would never be without a leader.
Ex. Ed Waddell, 5 April 2008
CNG auction 120, 10 Aug. 2005, lot 134, Tony Hardy collection.