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Cohort commander?
#46
Quote:What's the cohort for, then? Good question. :wink:

Just administrative, you think?

But how about building inscriptions giving a legion and cohort number - this would suggest that a single cohort was sent off to do some work somewhere, so presumably would have had a leader? I don't know whether they'd count as a vexillation in this case (or in the case of a cohort detached to garrison somewhere - Corbridge, or Carlisle maybe - did this happen?) Could one of the centurions be given the temporary position of praepositus while detached from the legion?

Trouble is, I don't know of any vexillation consisting of a single legionary cohort!
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#47
Quote:Trouble is, I don't know of any vexillation consisting of a single legionary cohort!
Well there is the utterly ambiguous incident of Tacfarinas attacking a 'Roman cohort' commanded by one Decrius in a fort near the River Pagyda (Tacitus, Annals 3.20). Not clear whether they are legionaries or auxiliaries, or what rank Decrius held, but hey, you can't have everything!

MIke Bishop
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#48
Since Polybius came up in the discussion I have to point you to his account that in each legion there were 2 centurions for every speira but also 6 chiliarchoi for every legion. Were they 10, we would be able to speak about possible commanders of cohorts but 6? Maybe cohorts did not have a single commander but somehow the command of any detachment of one or more cohorts were indeed commanded by them?

What is very interesting is a rank mentioned by Polyaenus which is called exacosiarchos (leader of 600), which seems to be Roman, since he is addressing Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. On the other hand, he also mentions the rank of the myriarchos (10,000) which makes things difficult to interpret. Yet, the "leader of 600" awfully sounds like a leader of a cohort. My problem is that I have found no other mention of any such rank in any other Greek text I know of but still...

Some problems also arise when trying to interpret Plutarch's lochagoi and taxiarchoi of the Roman army. Too many times mentioned, much obscurity as to the nature of the ranks and maybe, just maybe, if they are not two words for the exact same rank, so if one is a term for centurion we will have to find what the other rank is...
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#49
Quote:
D B Campbell post=327926 Wrote:What's the cohort for, then? Good question. :wink:

Just administrative, you think?

Actually administration is an issue, imho. Think about such a simple thing like daily orders / briefings. Historians assume, that the praefectus castrorum, the tribunes and the primi ordines were member of the generals staff. Also the tribunes and prefects of the auxilia / ala, if onsite, and a primipilus iterum, if available. Well, thats already a lot of people. It sounds weird, that additionally 50 centurions participated in such briefings.

That speaks for the theory, that the 5 equestrian tribunes commanded 2 cohorts. Because now they can forward the orders to the centurions afterwards (12 each). Other historians argue, that this was a reason, why the 9 pilus prior were primi ordines and participated therefore in such briefings.

Of course there was also the tessera, a written form of orders, whatever orders are meant.

Perhaps both is the truth. The pilus prior was the highest ranked centurio. So it makes sense, that he leaded, but he was no primi ordines. And we have the tribunes, responsible for 2 cohorts, at least for communication and general overseeing. Both complemented each other. However, after all the burden of work regarding daily business and leadership was done by the ordinary centurio.

All speculative arguments, but daily administration is something we should consider.
Unfortunately, if it comes to roman army and administration, we know a lot about titles and careers, but not so much about tasks, processes, reporting lines and organizational structure.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#50
Quote:we know a lot about titles and careers, but not so much about tasks, processes, reporting lines and organizational structure
As I often say, that information, along with the marching drill books, shield blazons and tunic colors, and training manuals were put on wax tablets and sent to a library in Herculaneum in AD 78. Wax, sadly, melts at about 60C, while the air in the pyroclastic flow spiked to about 1100C in the summer of 79. :wink: :grin:

Now back to a more serious discussion
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#51
Quote:
Mark Hygate post=327889 Wrote: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.

Sorry DrC, I wasn't answering to make those points in detail. In both camps descriptions the classic 'playing card' (with two sides 'somewhat' longer than the others depending on requirements) and the 'tertiata' elements are present. And I'm not saying that Polybius' single consular army camp isn't rather close to being a square.

The thing I find odd about the 'Hyginus' and later Byzantine camps (it seems) is not the basic outline shape, but the distribution of the units within - in an apparently ('Hyginus' certainly) tortuous breakdown of lines of tents/camping areas in more than one direction and ridiculous complexity - certainly compared to the lovely simplicity of Polybius'.

However - that's for another day - this thread is actually about cohorts. Smile
Mark Hygate - yes, I really am!
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#52
Quote:Since Polybius came up in the discussion I have to point you to his account that in each legion there were 2 centurions for every speira but also 6 chiliarchoi for every legion. Were they 10, we would be able to speak about possible commanders of cohorts but 6? Maybe cohorts did not have a single commander but somehow the command of any detachment of one or more cohorts were indeed commanded by them?......

Yes, 2 Centurions for every maniple and 6 Tribunes for each legion (or Prefects for the Socii). In the 'standard legion' the Triarii maniple is only a 'century' in strength, however, so there are the equivalent of 50 centuries. What's missing from that equation then is the cavalry contingent of 10 Turmae (Roman legion) and now there are 60 sub-units to command/administer - 10 for each Tribune.

When it comes to the 'need for a cohort' question, however, and the subsequent command of such; most logically linked to the times and needs of smaller units than whole legions/consular armies and certainly it seems by the post-Marian Citizen legions (single) and continuing in the Roman tradition of dealing in those original 10s; let alone the double-cohort sized structure of the Extarordinarii in Early Republican times; then the cohort of '5' (and then fixed at 6) centuries (complete with their traditional centurion rank structure in place) is born.

Then, considering simply the OPs original question for the post-Augustan period....

For the legions it is certainly reasonable to consider that the individual cohorts were commanded by the senior centurion of each one; but that Tribunes were assigned when 'standard' vexillations of pairs of cohorts were detached, partially for historical traditional reasons and the need for a more 'senior' command function.

The larger millaria auxilia cohorts (still of 10 sub-units) were also commanded by Tribunes.

For the legions it seems unlikely that the Tribunes had fixed command duties in camp, given what we generally seem to understand of the political structure (perhaps cynically Smile ). In terms of military command and discipline it seems much more likely that the day-to-day administration was carried out by the Camp Prefect and his 10 senior centurions and down what more modern armies might now consider the 'Sgt's Mess chain'.

Tribunes probably had 'much more important' things to do. 8)
Mark Hygate - yes, I really am!
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#53
I thought I should look into PHI and found these little diamonds :

Regions : Asia Minor : Ionia
Ephesos 1404 Previous Inscription Ephesos 1403 Ephesos 1405 Next Inscription
Honorary inscription for Vibius Seneca, naval officer, by
[synhedrion of gerousia], on statue-base; AD 244/246; found at
Ephesos: Keil, AAWW 92, 1955, 163-165, no. 1; AnnEpig 1956, 10;
SEG 17, 506; AnnEpig 1968, 488; *IEph 737.


IEph 737

[τὸ συνέδριον τῆς] The conference of the
[φιλοσεβ(άστου) γερουσίας] respected council of elders (senate)
Οὐίβιον Vibius
Σενεκᾶν Seneca
τὸν κράτιστον the strongest (foremost)
χειλίαρχον {δοῦκ[α]} chiliarchos dux (commander)
κοόρτης δεκάτη[ς] of the 10th cohort
πραιτωρίας of the praetorian
<⁶¹>⁶¹[⁵¹Φιλιππιανῆς]⁵¹ Philippiana
<δοῦκα> οὐηξιλλατιώνων dux of the vexillationae
κλάσσης πραιτωρίας of a praetorian classe (unit)
Μεισηνάτων καὶ of Meisenatae and
Ῥαβεννησίων, Ravennians
ἐκδικοῦντος τοῦ presiding the
συνεδρίου conference
Τιβ(ερίου) Κλ(αυδίου) Μοσχᾶ φιλοσεβ(άστου) Tiberius Claudius Moscha reverent
ἀ̣δ̣[ελ]φοῦ ἀσιάρχου brother of the asiarch
[—]



Regions : Sicily, Italy, and the West (IG XIV) : Gallia
IG XIV 2433 Previous Inscription IG XIV 2432 IG XIV 2434 Next Inscription
Gallia Narbonensis — Massalia (Marseille) — early? 3rd c. AD


Τ(ίτῳ) ∙ Πορκίῳ, Πορκίου Αἰ- Of Titus Porcius Ae-
λιανοῦ ἐξοχωτάτου ἀνδρὸς lianus splendid man
καὶ προφήτου υἱῷ, Κυρείνα, and son of prophet, Cyreina,
Κορνηλιανῷ ἱερεῖ Λευκοθέας, Cornelianus, priest of Leucothea,
χειλιάρχῳ λεγ(εῶνος) ιεʹ Ἀπολλι[ν]αρ(ίας), chiliarchos of the 15th legion Apollinaria
χειλ(ιάρχῳ) κοόρτ(ης) θʹ Βαταο[ύ]ων, chiliarchos of the 9th cohort of Batavians
πραιφέκτ(ῳ) σπείρ(ας) βʹ Οὐλπ(ίας) ΥΡΙΑ?, praefect of the 2nd Ulpian speira (maniple) YRIA?
πραιφέκτ(ῳ) σπείρ(ας) δʹ ∙ Γάλλων, praefect of the 4th speira of Gallians
πραιφέκτ(ῳ) σπείρ(ας) Δαρδάνων, praefect of the Dardanian speira
πραιφέκτ(ῳ) ἐξπλωρ(ατόρων) Γερμανίας, praefect of the German exploratores
ἐπιτρόπῳ πρ[ειβ]άτης διὰ overseer of the privati (ptivate citizens) of
Φλαμινίας Αἰμιλ(ίας) Λιγυρίας, Flaminia Aemilia of Ligyria
ἐπιτρόπῳ καὶ ἡγεμ[όνι] overseer and lord
τῶν παραθαλασσ[ίων Ἄλπεων] of the coastal Alps
[— — — — — — — — — — — —]

It is interesting that in Greek epigraphy the term coortis appears very very few times - in this database I only found these two instances (both 3rd c.), yet both connect it with the rank of chiliarchos and according to the one found in Ephesos, the "douka coortis" is very specific in identifying a man of this rank as leading a single cohort.

P.S. At Nathan's request, I have added a quick translation to the texts, there may be some mistakes since I am not that familiar to the Roman terms used in Greek at this period, but I hope you can now more easily judge the content.
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#54
Interesting! Could you give a rough translation, for non-Greek-readers?


Quote:the "douka coortis" is very specific in identifying a man of this rank as leading a single cohort.

Is it certainly a legionary cohort though? I think that after Caracalla's citizenship grant the term 'auxiliary' faded from use, and those units formerly known by that title were referred to simply as 'cohorts' and 'alae'. A 3rd century source mentioning a 'cohort' might therefore be referring to one of those old-style auxiliary formations, commanded by a prefect or tribune. Or do 'douka' and 'chiliarchos' certainly refer to some more definite rank?
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#55
One more thing to keep in mind when trying to explore Roman military matters through Greek sources is that Plutarch uses the word speira as a translation to cohort instead of maniple. Later today I will try to see whether such use is also made in epigraphy. Maybe this is the reason why the actual word "coortis" appears so rarely in Greek... However in these examples, it is mentioned although I do not have the necessary knowledge to judge whether the speirae in mention may also be coorteis instead of maniples (which would be the Polybian translation). You, fine gentlemen, who are more knowledgeable in Roman unit names are more appropriate to address that matter.
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#56
As i mentioned above: administration matters. 8)

I just got some books about roman administration from my library. One of them is focussing on the offices in the roman army (document types, offices, clerks)

Konrad Stauner, Das offizielle Schriftwesen des römischen Heeres von Augustus bis Gallienus, 2004

He quotes Iosephus Flavius and Appian.

Every morning the centurions compiled a daily report (number of men avialble, ill, on vacation, commandeered, ...). The centurio forwarded this daily report to the tribunus angusticlavius. Vice versa, the legate gave daily orders and the tessera to these 5 tribunes, and they forwarded it back to the centurions. However, the tribuni angusticlavii had no office, like the tribunus laticlavius, the praefectus castrorum or the centurio princeps officii. The tribunus angusticlavius just had 1 beneficarius tribuni (perhaps a personal adjutant) but no cornicularii, librarii, exacti or exceptores as usual for an office. As mentioned above, also a centurio pilus prior had no special office. It is the same like every centurio (optio, signifer, tesserarius, librarius, custos armorum).

That means, that the tribunes played a role in daily command, but there was no explicit organizational level between legion and centuria inside a legion. A cohors with an office is just known from the auxilia cohors, ala and vexillatio which could operate stand alone and therfore needed an own office.

This is no final evidence for the command-structure. But administration and organizational structure gives us some hint, imho.
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#57
The fact that this second epigraphic inscription dated in the 3rd century A.D from Massilia (Marseilles) is still written in greek is a surprise to me,I thought that by this time greek had been subtituted by latin long ago in this region.
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#58
oops double post sorry
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#59
Quote:Οὐίβιον Σενεκᾶν τὸν κράτιστον χειλίαρχον κοόρτης δεκάτη[ς] πραιτωρίας [⁵¹Φιλιππιανῆς]
Vibius Seneca is commander of a Praetorian cohort, which were traditionally commanded by tribunes.


Quote:Τ(ίτῳ) Πορκίῳ Αἰλιανοῦ χειλιάρχῳ λεγ(εῶνος) ιεʹ Ἀπολλι[ν]αρ(ίας), χειλ(ιάρχῳ) κοόρτ(ης) θʹ Βαταο[ύ]ων, πραιφέκτ(ῳ) σπείρ(ας) βʹ Οὐλπ(ίας), πραιφέκτ(ῳ) σπείρ(ας) δʹ ∙ Γάλλων, πραιφέκτ(ῳ) σπείρ(ας) Δαρδάνων, πραιφέκτ(ῳ) ἐξπλωρ(ατόρων) Γερμανίας, ...
Totus Porcius Aelian is following a fairly standard equestrian career, which includes a military tribunate in a legion, along with command over various auxiliary cohorts.

So, no commanders of legionary cohorts! :wink:
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#60
Not necesarilly, Massilia and Arles were hubs of trade on the mediterranean, and Arles was the capital of Gaul in the 5th century. Seeing greek there is no surprise to me.
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