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Ave,
Just got finished reading the Kessinger translation of Caesar's commentaries on the Gaullic and Civil War and have some issues that confused me regarding the translation.
- They make frequent references to the term "battalion commander" and "battalion" which I believe meant a Cohort but what was the exact title in Latin in the original text used describe the commander of a cohort?
The copy I read makes a definitive separation between centurions and the commanders of the cohorts when describing the two together and to me it implies that someone else commanded a cohort other then a centurion. The word tribune is barely mentioned except when describing a Tribune of Plebeian. Where they who Caesar was writing about?
- I don't know how much license they took describing the battles but it seems there was little hand to hand combat compared missile combat. The few times mention a launch of pikes (I guess they meant pilum) and then a charge which seemed to usually turn into a quick route. Where were the long hand to hand battles that everyone talks about?
- Were Caesar's writings in Latin simpler with just more embellishment when it was translated into English or are the translations relatively accurate when it comes to their language and use? How complex is the Latin language compared to the English language when it comes to the ammount of words commonly used?

My thanks to those who reply ,
Bryan
Many questions, but I have few answers. The Latin language, though, was very specific but not always easy for us non-Latin-speakers to sort out. The same word may mean different things, and they tend to confuse us sometimes because we don't have as good a grasp of the context as they would have.

And many times, the various writers will pick a word to describe an object or activity that is a seemingly totally different word another writer uses. I don't think they had a word for "pike", and I suspect you are correct in thinking they were pila being thrown.
Cohort Commander is a Pilus Prior, he also commands the 1st Century of his cohort. Since there are six centuries with 80 men and 20 calones authorized (but rarely on hand) Cohort sort of are battalion level commands, they certanly are in modern armies. It is not the first time I have heard of Cohorts being referred to as Battalions, Maniples and Centuries as companies with contuberniums as squads and combinations of those same octets as platoons. Think of it less as an error and more an interpretation of the Latin for a modern reader.

Caear's reference to 'corn' rations are another example of Latin's shall we say 'flexibility'? Corn would not be discovered until Conquistadors found it in Mexico.
In older English corn can be any grain. Our corn was first known as "Indian Corn" later shortened to just corn.
The long drawn out hand to hand fights are not so dramatic as one may imagine and Caesar was writing to an audience which included veterans who knew what was going on and able to describe it or to civilians accustomed to watching gladiator bouts in the circus. His audience would have ample access to imagine what he was describing. BTW Gladiators were showmen while Legios are in the business of killing. Thrust with gladius, punch with scutum, repeat as necessary. His Commentaries were not just seen in Rome, he founded the first real newspaper (handwritten) called the Acta Diuria. It was distributed throughout the republic and could reach the furthest provinces in as little as ten days...instant news in his day. There is little doubt he made sure regular installments of his commentaries were included in those periodicals.
Centurio: (Pronounced ‘sent-chur-eeo’) Common name for eleven grades commanding at all levels in the Legion. Minimal rank Centurio commands eighty men and twenty calone camp servants, or calone strikers. Six assigned to each Cohort. Modern equivalent=Captain/company commander/O3 Pay x 5.
Pilus Prior: (Pronounced’ pie-loose- pry- or) Senior Centurio Commands 1st Century and the Cohort. Cohort Commander/ Modern equivalent=Major/O4.
Pilus Posterior: Commands 2nd Century, second in command of Cohort. Modern equivalent=CPT/O3
Princeps Prior: Commands 3rd Century, third in Command of Cohort. Modern equivalent= CPT/O3
Princeps Posterior: Commands 4th Century. Modern equivalent= CPT/O3
Hastatus Prior: 5th Century Commander. Modern equivalent= CPT/O3
Hastatus Posterior: 6th Century Commander. Modern equivalent= CPT/O3
Field Grade Legion Officers:
Prime Ordine: (Pronounced ‘pree-may-or-dee- nay) Six most senior first grade Centurions commanding the Centuries of the first Cohort, capable of serving in place of a’ tribune’ when one is not present. Modern equivalent=Major/ 1SG
First Cohort authorized five double strength Centuries instead of six, Quadruple strength in 1st Century, nine hundred sixty fighters, two hundred forty calone strikers. Always maintained at full strength. Pay x 30.
Princep Primus: Commands 2nd Century, 1st Cohort.
Hastatus Prior: Commands 3rd Century, 1st Cohort.
Princep Posterior: Commands 4th Century, 1st Cohort.
Hastatus Posterior: Commands 5th Century, 1st Cohort.
Primus Pilus (Pronounced ‘pree-moose-pie-luus’) Literally, the ‘First Spear,’ the most senior centurion of the Legion, commands the 1st Century, 1st Cohort in battle, selected from the Prime Ordines grade Centurios by the junior Centurios of the lower Cohorts. Generally believed to be either a two year or until wounded or dead position. Can be re-elected after two years; successful First Spears have no problem holding the office…unless they are wounded or killed in battle. Combination of Full Colonel/Regimental Sergeant Major. Pay x 60
Praefectus Castorium: Camp prefect, third in command, (former First Spear), Legion quartermaster, commands major detachments of the legion when operating separately. Combination Executive Officer and Property book officer/ purchasing officer (S-4).
When no Praefectus assigned, Prime Ordines grade Centurion fills position as additional duty. Modern equivalent=LTC/SMG

Military Tribunes come in two grades:
Tribune Augusticlavius: (Pronounced ‘treeb-yoon-ay,’ ‘aw-guus-tay-clah-vay-uus’) Tribune of the thin stripe- junior grade, six to a legion. This grade of tribune serves on the staff of a Legate who is a general. In battle, two junior Tribunes could be assigned to each line of the Legion or used as staff messengers to carry orders from the Legate to the various cohorts when the bugle calls don’t apply. Equivalent rank: Lt Colonel/O5.
Tribune Laticlavius: Senior Tribune; ‘Broad Stripe’, second in command of a Legion after the Legatii, but above the Primus Pilus; a FULL COLONEL! Usually posted on the far right of the line, while the Legate stands to the far left, with the Primus Pilus. Tribunes of this rank can command a Legion when no Legate is available. Modern equivalent=Colonel/O6

Hope that helps!
Centurio is pronounced KENTOORIO in classical Latin. The C is pronounced a K.

Your pronunciation is based on Church Latin I am afraid...

And Tribunus Augusticlavius should be Tribunus ANgusticlavius.

Praefectus Castorium should be Praefectus Castrorum.

Princep Prior should be PrincepS prior, same goes for Posterior positions.


M.VIB.M.
Quote:Just got finished reading the Kessinger translation of Caesar's commentaries on the Gaullic and Civil War and have some issues that confused me regarding the translation.
Without knowing which translation Kessinger have repackaged, it's difficult to comment on its idiosyncracies. (Do they credit a translator? No, thought not.)

You might actually enjoy the Penguin or Oxford Classics translations better, while you wait for the forthcoming Landmark edition.

Quote:They make frequent references to the term "battalion commander" and "battalion" which I believe meant a Cohort ...
Actually, older translations use "battalion" to mean legion. If you tell us the precise contexts, someone will be able to cross-refer to the Latin text.
Quote:They make frequent references to the term "battalion commander" and "battalion"
The habit of some translators trying to find modern equivalents for Roman military terms is highly confusing, and I think unnecessary. Most readers, surely, especially those with an interest in Roman history, would understand what a legion is, and probably a cohort as well - more specialised terms can be explained in a glossary. Similarly Roman weapons would best be called by their proper names - a pilum might be called a 'javelin', perhaps, (which at least would be better than a 'pike'!), but then what would one call a verutum?

Older translators are more prone to this, but some contemporary historians persist in doing it.

Quote:Primus Pilus (Pronounced ‘pree-moose-pie-luus’) Literally, the ‘First Spear,’ ... Combination of Full Colonel/Regimental Sergeant Major.
I think the term would be better given as 'first file'. The 'first spear' thing is based on a mistranslation.

Same here with ranks though - the rank system of the Roman army was quite different to any modern one, and equivalents will always fog the boundaries. Even such a common position as centurion has no viable modern alternative. The division between the centurionate, the equestrian militiae and the higher senatorial positions defies any attempt to draw parallels with armies today.

Again, some writers insist on doing this - one in particular, who shall remain nameless, commonly translates Quaestor as 'quartermaster', to no great effect...
For those that believe that Primus Pilus centurions commanded the entire legion, I have these questions:

- Who commanded their century in battle?

- What was the point of having tribunes and Legates if you already had a man for the job?

- The time came that tribunes, Augusticlavii or Laticlavius, stopped serving as commanders of the legions on alternating days as they had in earlier times, being replaced by Legatus, and were more relegated to staff positions of the Legatus or overall commander of the army. Is it possible they served as the acting commanders of cohorts in battle or possibly as liaisons/messangers between the commander and individual cohorts and centuries?

- Was it possible that centurions were graded more as a matter of honor based on their own and their century's seniority and ability and just given a higher ranking within their peer group(rest of centurions), more pay and some prestige but with no real addition tactical responsibilities?

- I remember reading that one of the perks for being the Primus Pilus was being called to war councils but I have read of no other Centurions being used as tactical commanders at any level during a battle; mentions are made repeatedly of Tribunes ordering an isolated attack or other tactical maneuver but never a Centurion ordering it.

- Are there any accounts in the ancient primary sources that would let the reader think that in a battle a Primus Pilus actually commanded the entire legion or that a Pilus Prior commanded his cohort and not his century from the front?

Lastly, and I thank you for your patience, does anyone know of the ancient source that specifies that the Centurion was stationed at the front right of his century while leading it into battle?

I look forward to the replies.
You are absolutely correct, it was an old writing and I need to delete the pronounciations! Thanks for reminding me! Du-huh! :-D
My source says Castrorium...tomayto tomahto.
Damn Dyslexia is a terrible afliction....swear I have been reading the word wrong for four years now. It also means I have to go back to book two 'FIRST PEAR Pro Denuo and fix it. Too late to fix Rudimenta!
Primus Pilus commanded the Legion, the 1st Cohort and led the first Century in battle. Caesar's mentioning his tribunes and Legates was most likely his way of rewarding loyal equite officers for going above and beyond what was a routine thing for Centurions, although he mentions them too, Pullo, Vorenus, Bacculus and Crastinus being the specifics.
Quote:August means thin, Angust means ...I don't know what.
It's the other way around actually - angust means thin.

Quote:For those that believe that Primus Pilus centurions commanded the entire legion, I have these questions: - Who commanded their century in battle?
I can't think of any evidence for the Primus Pilus commanding the whole legion. He would have commanded his own first cohort. There are cases of Primus Pilus centurions being given command of detachments of the legion, with the temporary position of praepositus (commander), but ordinary centurions and tribunes could also have this role. The Praefectus Castrorum (himself a former Primus Pilus) could deputise for an absent legate in command of the legion, but this was a rare expedient.

Quote:What was the point of having tribunes and Legates if you already had a man for the job?... Is it possible they served as the acting commanders of cohorts in battle or possibly as liaisons/messangers between the commander and individual cohorts and centuries?

There have been a couple of interesting discussions about the role of tribunes in the republican army in particular. Here's one:

Military Tribunes and Legates

It's worth stressing that the officer corps of Caesar's day was slightly different to to more familiar Imperial model - legates were assigned to legions, apparently, only at the start of a campaigning year, and reassigned in the next. The legion therefore had no fixed commander. Tribunes and praefects were partly elected and partly assigned by the patronage of the commander (Caesar himself), and these men seem to have filled a variety of functions within the army, including detached command positions.

Quote:Was it possible that centurions were graded more as a matter of honor based on their own and their century's seniority and ability and just given a higher ranking within their peer group(rest of centurions), more pay and some prestige but with no real addition tactical responsibilities?
The promotion of centurions is a bit of a grey area, I think. Certainly they don't seem to have proceeded up through the ranks by seniority alone, and some of them (particularly those appointed directly from the equestrian or decurion classes) seem to have been on a kind of fast track promotion - whether this was still the case under the Republic I don't know. Certainly the Principales (probably the centurions of the first cohort, although maybe the leading centurions of each cohort) formed a select elite group within the centurionate of the legion. The famous Pullo and Vorenus were almost at the stage of joining the Principales at the time of their exploits under Q Cicero.

Quote:I remember reading that one of the perks for being the Primus Pilus was being called to war councils but I have read of no other Centurions being used as tactical commanders at any level during a battle.
They probably weren't. As I say, centurions could be given detached commands of vexillations, appointed to lead auxiliary forces, placed in command of small unit garrisons, and given various other tasks. Within the legion itself they would have functioned as part of the command hierarchy, and followed the direct orders of their superiors.

- Nathan
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