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Cohort commander?
#31
Mark Hygate wrote:
This seems rather confusing to the otherwise generally accepted ideas.


That is because 80% of my research is in total opposition to the “generally accepted ideas.” However, I will state my research is 100% faithful to the primary sources. I’ve read these “general accepted views” that claim the cohort was introduced as part of the Marian reform or the cohort was introduced in Spain around 211 BC (Bell). The general view is that all those references to cohorts found before 211 BC or 102 BC are all explained away as being anachronistic, yet not one person can prove that they are anachronistic other than claiming they are anachronistic...which is not proof…its conjecture.

Mark Hygate wrote:
There is also the issue of the use of the cohort as even an idea at that early stage. Whilst writing later, Polybius (the best and most detailed of the early writers)

I have studied many historians and their methods dating back to the 17th century and I was fascinated to find too many place so much trust in Polybius. Realising no one has explored the premise Polybius could be wrong, I undertook such a study which began seven years ago and combined with the notion to ignore “the generally accepted views,” I can truly say those two small decisions for me personally have paid great dividends.

Mark Hygate wrote:
(Polybius) has the strength of a legion at 4,000 + 'Officers' + 300 Cavalry. If considered as a Cohort structure (which it wasn't at that time) this would give 10 Cohorts of 5 Centuries of Infantry and a Turma of cavalry.

With due respect Mark, to my understanding, you claim that Polybius is “the best and most detailed of the early writers” then you also believe the legion of Polybius is not a cohort structure. This completely goes against Polybius’ use of the word cohort, especially at Zama when he mentions the hastati were in cohorts. Polybius also states that three maniples made a cohort. So if Polybius is “the best” then his use of the word cohort cannot be dismissed…so Polybius must be correct in regard to cohorts.

As I am a great supporter and believer in the primary sources, allow me to indulge in a long exercise to make my point. At Caudium in 315 BC, Livy states that on to the left wing, Poetelius made a sudden decision to reinforce his front line with the reserve (subsidiarias) cohorts. This has been interpreted to be the triarii. At the battle of Zama in 202 BC Polybius describes the hastati being organised in cohorts. So here we have two ancient historians referring to cohorts, one in 315 BC for the triarii and one in 202 BC for the hastati. So can we combine the two references and see if both ancient writers are working from the same page? Taking the legion of Polybius, be ignoring the 1200 velites we are left with a legion of 3000 men consisting of 1200 hastati, 1200 principes and 600 triarii. By dividing 3000 men by 10 cohorts the result is:

1200 hastati organised into four cohorts each of 300 men
1200 principes organised into four cohorts each of 300 men
600 triarii organised into two cohorts each of 300 men

This gives a total of 10 cohorts. So now we have subsidiarias cohorts (the triarii) as stated by Livy and we also have the hastati organised into cohorts as mentioned by Polybius. The problem with modern historians is many believe a cohort consists of one maniple of hastati, one maniple of principes and one maniple of triarii. If you have the wrong premise, you have the wrong conclusion. Ignoring Lydus comment a cohort numbered 300 men, I am going to introduce a new mathematical methodology to see if I can support the fact there are 10 cohorts to a Polybian legion with a cohort numbering 300 men. My methodology to many on RAT is not new and involves using my research regarding the Roman cosmos system. A cohort of 300 men is equivalent to 10 zodiacs each of 30 degrees. With a degree equal to 700 stadia, a 300 man cohort amounts to 210,000 men, and when divided by 35 tribes each tribe numbers 6000 men. When divided into a 50/50 ratio of iuniores to seniores as outlined by Dionysius and Livy, the 6000 men are divided into 3000 iuniores and 3000 seniores and when divided by ten, each amounts to 300 men. Now let’s take this a step further. In 225 BC, Polybius details the levy which has the Roman and Campanian army at 250,000 men. For 216 BC, Livy numbers the Campanians at 30,000 infantry and 4000 cavalry giving a total of 34,000 men. I think Mark you will now see where this is going. After subtracting the Campanians the total is 216,000 men, which is an increase of 6000 men over 210,000 men. However, my research can confirm the number should be 210,000 Romans for this period and Polybius has given the Campanians at 40,000 men. So in conclusion, in 225 BC the 35 tribes numbered 210,000 men which equates to 10 zodiacs and during the reign of Augustus the 35 tribes number 336,000 men or 16 zodiacs. As I already discussed this on RAT, a cohort of 480 men equates to 16 zodiacs, multiplied by 700 stadia equals 336,000 men and when divided by 35 tribes equals 9600 men per tribe and when divided into a 50/50 ratio of iuniores to seniores the 9600 men are divided into 4800 iuniores and 4800 seniores and when divided by ten, each amounts to 480 men per cohort.

My research can confirm the Roman army has been organised into cohorts dating back to the Servian constitution because the size and organisation of the cohort is interconnected with the cosmos via the tribal system. They are all integrated from one system. Because I have found Livy to be extremely reliable, and by taking Livy at face value, in the beginning senators commanded Roman cohorts and then this changed to Roman prefects.


Steven
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#32
Quote:.......

That is because 80% of my research is in total opposition to the “generally accepted ideas.” However, I will state my research is 100% faithful to the primary sources. I’ve read these “general accepted views” that claim the cohort was introduced as part of the Marian reform or the cohort was introduced in Spain around 211 BC (Bell). The general view is that all those references to cohorts found before 211 BC or 102 BC are all explained away as being anachronistic, yet not one person can prove that they are anachronistic other than claiming they are anachronistic...which is not proof…its conjecture.

Steven, whilst I may not entirely agree with some, even many, of the 'accepted conclusions' and will, if I can get my lazy butt in gear, make good on my intention to write out a little thesis that sets out my logic and submit it for critique; I have certainly found little evidence to support the idea that the Republican legions and their allies were broken down into a standardised cohort structure, although I do think there are hints of an early evolution when it comes to the Extraordinarii.

I am not, however, desirous to comment on your astrological or cosmological view(s), that I have seen expounded here before, due to a firm logical and deductive basis for believing that military structures are based primarily on battlefield tactical deployments due to weapons usage and operational requirements of military command and control, with a good dose of common sense and occasional bouts of historical comfort. That said.......

Quote:.......I have studied many historians and their methods dating back to the 17th century and I was fascinated to find too many place so much trust in Polybius. Realising no one has explored the premise Polybius could be wrong, I undertook such a study which began seven years ago and combined with the notion to ignore “the generally accepted views,” I can truly say those two small decisions for me personally have paid great dividends.

From all that I have been able to discover and unless I have been mislead; there seem to be only 5 main sources of our understanding of Roman Military Organisation from 3cBC to 5cAD (or BCE & CE for the PC), supplemented by other hints and tips; and looking at the period after Livy's strange early legion breakdown; they being: Polybius; Josephus; 'Hyginus'; and Vegetius; with the early Byzantine Military Treatises. Of them I will still be most comfortable that Polybius wrote from first hand knowledge; Josephus wrote from observation and some questioning; 'Hyginus' as a non-military mathematical wizard with A-Level students to test and a smattering of racism; and Vegetius with rose spectacles and an armchair academic soliloquy to his Emperor. Of them I would rather dismiss 'Hyginus' first (and found that I must).

Quote:.......
With due respect Mark, to my understanding, you claim that Polybius is “the best and most detailed of the early writers” then you also believe the legion of Polybius is not a cohort structure. This completely goes against Polybius’ use of the word cohort, especially at Zama when he mentions the hastati were in cohorts. Polybius also states that three maniples made a cohort. So if Polybius is “the best” then his use of the word cohort cannot be dismissed…so Polybius must be correct in regard to cohorts.

As I am a great supporter and believer in the primary sources, allow me to indulge in a long exercise to make my point. At Caudium in 315 BC, Livy states that on to the left wing, Poetelius made a sudden decision to reinforce his front line with the reserve (subsidiarias) cohorts. This has been interpreted to be the triarii. At the battle of Zama in 202 BC Polybius describes the hastati being organised in cohorts. So here we have two ancient historians referring to cohorts, one in 315 BC for the triarii and one in 202 BC for the hastati. So can we combine the two references and see if both ancient writers are working from the same page? Taking the legion of Polybius, be ignoring the 1200 velites we are left with a legion of 3000 men consisting of 1200 hastati, 1200 principes and 600 triarii. By dividing 3000 men by 10 cohorts the result is:

1200 hastati organised into four cohorts each of 300 men
1200 principes organised into four cohorts each of 300 men
600 triarii organised into two cohorts each of 300 men

Indeed I do not believe the legions of Polybius to be organised into a firm cohort structure - I believe it firmly based upon the 3-line model and on centuries and maniples. That Livy & Polybius do use the word 'cohort' I do not dispute, but believe it to be a sub-legion grouping with no fixed elements when it is required. Certainly that interpretation fits all usage.

I do not believe that there are 1,200 Velites - Polybius is very careful not to say that (but many have ignored it and I find it the most obvious mis-calculation in many historian's breakdown) - I believe there were 1,000 of them.

I have interpreted Polybius as saying that each century consisted of 60 'Heavy Infantry' supported by 20 Velites and operating in the manipular-structure with 'prior' & 'posterior' centuries; with the Triarii at half that, because that was all that was needed for the third line.

No cohort structure is mentioned and there are no commanders of such detailed. I do note, however, that a hint can be seen in the organisation of the Extraordinarii, which seems to constitute a consular army in miniature.

Quote:.......This gives a total of 10 cohorts. So now we have subsidiarias cohorts (the triarii) as stated by Livy and we also have the hastati organised into cohorts as mentioned by Polybius. The problem with modern historians is many believe a cohort consists of one maniple of hastati, one maniple of principes and one maniple of triarii. ........

Post-Marian and the citizen-legion structure of the Late Republic and Early Empire where the legion-cohorts do definitely seem to have consisted of 6 centuries and the centurion rank structure we are all used to, I am not aware of any evidence that would support the separate hastati, principes or triarii cohort structure.

It's no good - I'll have to write - perhaps by the end of the month if I try....... Mark
Mark Hygate - yes, I really am!
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#33
Yes, sacrificing a chicken to see how a battle will go is on what page in Clausewitz? :whistle:
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#34
As far as the Middle Republican army goes, I don't have a clear idea of how it was organized.

Alae sociorum would vary from the same size as the legions to being half again as large as the legions. The Romans may have grouped the socii together, so that each group would be responsible for raising 2 centuries of hastati, 2 centuries of principes, etc. But if so, they must have grouped them differently when the alae sociorum were the same size and when the alae sociorum were larger.

Polybius' description of the Roman camp makes more sense if the alae sociorum were the same size as the legiones. If the extraordinarii were formed of two centuries of hastati, 2 of principes, and 1 of triarii - assuming the velites were divided among these centuries - then the alignment of the camp gets thrown off. If the extraordinarii were organized like the triarii, then the alignment fits, although there are still some unclear bits.

I suspect a cohort could refer to different force sizes before it was standardized to the Marian cohort. It might refer to a series of 2 centuries of hastati, 2 of principes, and 1 of triarii/extraordinarii. It might refer to a line of 10 maniples. It might refer to an ad-hoc detachment.
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#35
I was certainly under the impression from the reading I have done that the Allies were organized along the same lines as the Citizen Legions, just they were not given the same rights under the Roman laws.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#36
Quote:Perhaps having a vir militaris family helped boost a young man into the officer's club?

The straightforward answer to this is a definite yes! There are a bunch of young men in equestrian positions identified by Kleijwegt (Ancient Youth, 1991), and a 'military' family is, IIRC, the main common factor. They'd have social rank, great connections, and a decent mentor - not a bad position to start from.

Quote:
LVCIVS SERGIVS ANTONINVS Wrote:... half or more than half the strength of a consular army was composed of allied cohorts with each of them having a single commander, ...
I'm not sure that that's true under the Republic.

It's not. So far as I can tell, Praefecti socium acted as a college, same as military tribunes: they could be assigned command of a cohort/unit in a given situation, but that was a matter for the commander at the time. Add that to the fact that the alae sociorum were composed of units of differing sizes from different cities/peoples, and you can see why the command structure had to be flexible.

There's another logic to all of this. Allied units in the Republic were, in general, raised, managed and paid for by local elites. Those elites derived status and power from that military command. Gallic or Spanish tribal chiefs needed to command their people in battle as much as Roman politicians needed to show military prowess. It wasn't in Rome's interest to undermine their friends in their home communities! Nor would it make sense to assign a Roman commander to a group of men who might well speak a very different language and have their own way of fighting.

The last point is less important for the Italian socii and latini - who seem to have integrated into the legions pretty well post Social War and may well have been armed and arrayed similarly to the Romans by the late 1st century BC - but it would certainly have applied to foreign auxiliary units.
Tom Wrobel
email = [email protected]
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#37
I actually think it applies pre-Social war as well.
They were already well organised along these lines, it was their rights
that started the dispute I believe.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#38
Yup, my mistake. In the above post, 'late 1st Century BC', should have been 'late 2nd Century BC'. Sorry about that!
Tom Wrobel
email = [email protected]
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#39
Quote:.......
Alae sociorum would vary from the same size as the legions to being half again as large as the legions. The Romans may have grouped the socii together, so that each group would be responsible for raising 2 centuries of hastati, 2 centuries of principes, etc. But if so, they must have grouped them differently when the alae sociorum were the same size and when the alae sociorum were larger.

Polybius' description of the Roman camp makes more sense if the alae sociorum were the same size as the legiones. If the extraordinarii were formed of two centuries of hastati, 2 of principes, and 1 of triarii - assuming the velites were divided among these centuries - then the alignment of the camp gets thrown off. If the extraordinarii were organized like the triarii, then the alignment fits, although there are still some unclear bits..........

The theoretical size & shape of the Socii Legions (re Polybius) seems to be identical to that of the Roman ones in terms of the infantry and it is only the cavalry contingent that is 3x larger; with the caveat that later it is explained that the Socii infantry element is supplemented by the 'in extremis' additional 800 element most of the time.

When it comes to the camp, however, it is the 'standard' size that is referred to and indeed the camp then becomes completely regular. For as one-fifth of the infantry (10 centuries each Socii legion) and one-third of the cavalry is taken off for the Extraordinarii then the tent spaces of the lost infantry can be perfectly filled by the remaining extra cavalry.

The Polybian camp does seem to meet nearly all the requirements of the playing card shape and a direct pre-cursor of the later fortresses. What has puzzled me is how the 'Hyginus' and possibly the Later Byzantine shapes came about, for they make much less sense.
Mark Hygate - yes, I really am!
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#40
Thank you for the several detailed answers, brothers. Much more than I'd ever expected.

Perhaps to narrow the question's scope a little, what I should have asked is who/what officer would be in command of an infantry cohort (legionary) during the early to mid 1st Century AD. I see now that the original question was needlessly too vague. Of course in pre-Marian times, that question would be meaningless, as cohorts and centuries as we generally know them today were post-Marian. Sorry for the confusion.

:?: Would a safe, simple answer for a questioner at a public event be, "Usually, a tribune, but there were sometimes others put in charge for the short or long term, as deemed fitting to the generals and/or legatus legionis"?
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#41
Quote: :?: Would a safe, simple answer for a questioner at a public event be, "Usually, a tribune, but there were sometimes others put in charge for the short or long term, as deemed fitting to the generals and/or legatus legionis"?

My favourite simple answer is still, that the pilus prior was the cohort commander of a legion. He was the highest centurio in rank. But obviously there was not so much to lead for a cohort commander if not an auxilia cohort or ala. Also the tribuni angusticalvii played a role, but most propably for more than 1 cohort on the battlefield and for vexillationes.

For the 1st half of the first century, centurions often leaded auxilia cohorts, too. The equestrian career with praefectus cohortis and tribunus cohortis was not fully established until Claudius.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#42
Polybius mentions larger alae sociorum in his account of the Telamon campaign.

Also, removing 1/5 of the infantry only works with the camp layout if it means removing one line - like half the hastati, half the principes, or all the triarii - not if it means removing two centuries from each line. Also, if it were removing two centuries and two turmae from each line, that would only be 1/5 of the cavalry. If it is removing one line of infantry and one line of cavalry, that matches the proportion of 1/5 of the infantry and 1/3 of the cavalry.

I think the easiest line to remove is the triarii, hence my suggestion that the infantry of the extraordinarii were equivalent to the triarii.
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#43
Weren't the Triarii organized into 3 "Vexilliationes"? Could they not be cohortes? I don't know much about the Pre-Augustan Army.
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#44
Quote:The Polybian camp does seem to meet nearly all the requirements of the playing card shape and a direct pre-cursor of the later fortresses. ...
Polybius' camp is almost square. (His description is problematic.)


Quote:What has puzzled me is how the 'Hyginus' and possibly the Later Byzantine shapes came about, for they make much less sense.
Hyginus' camp is the classic tertiata ("in three zones") that gives the so-called playing-card shape, Mark.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#45
Quote:Would a safe, simple answer for a questioner at a public event be, "Usually, a tribune, but there were sometimes others put in charge for the short or long term, as deemed fitting to the generals and/or legatus legionis"?
Not in my opinion, David, because that answer is completely theoretical -- meaning that there is absolutely no justification for it at all.

A safer, simpler answer (imho) would be to admit that everything we know about the imperial Roman army of the Principate suggests that legionaries were deployed and commanded by century and not by cohort.

What's the cohort for, then? Good question. :wink:
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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