Full Version: Centurion Muscle Curaiss
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Could a centurion of equestrian rank, like the primus pilus wear the lorica musculata.
Possibly. Nobody's 100% sure if the musculata was used as armor, or was merely an artistic license.

I'm of the camp that iron muscle cuirasses were used, especially in the Late Roman period, but you'd have to ask someone who knows more than me about the Principate.
Basically, no one knows. In my humble opinion, I don't believe the muscled cuirass was as much a "sign of rank" in the sense that we think of it today (in terms of our modern western military's strict structure/insignia scheme) as much as it was a piece of armor that harkened back to the traditional, "heroic" foundations of the Greco-Roman warrior. So, yes, that would be fine with me if you want to say they likely wore them.

Bottom line, if you buy/make one for your reproduction of such a centurion, or ascribe that piece of armor to him in writing or artistic representation, you'll likely have two opposing camps support and oppose you.
I believe the answer is yes. There is at least one relief of which I am aware that depicts a soldier identified as a centurion (his sword is on the left) wearing a muscle cuirass. You also have the issue of Trajan's Column, where "traditional" centurions (i.e. wearing mail or scale armor and transverse crest) are nowhere in evidence. There are, however, numerous "officers" in what looks like short muscle cuirasses and cloaks who are probably supposed to be centurions.
Of the top of my head, there is the tombstone of the optio of a liburna in the Roman navy (essentially the centurion of the marines on a ship), who wears a muscle cuirass.

Also, one of the praetorian guardsmen on the decursio scene on the base of the Column of Antoninus Pius wears a muscle cuirass, perhaps marking him as some sort of officer, although here some caution is necessary as this particular monument has been heavily restored.

While some centurions or other "officers" may have elected to wear more expensive muscle cuirasses, there is no reason to think it was in of itself a badge of rank, in the same manner as a vine stick was.
Here's Aelius Septimus from Brigetio, an optio, wearing the cuirass (2nd-3rd century):

[Image: 440px-201209301539a_Grabstein_Brigetio,_..._n.Chr.jpg]