Ranks in the Legions
by: Aldus Marius Peregrinus
- Miles gregarius - Ordinary Legionary.
- Contubernalis - Squad-leader/dorm chief for his tentful of eight men. His responsibilities included teaching any of his men to read if they weren't literate to begin with.
- Immunis - somewhat longer-serving Legionary who has been excused from the nastier chores (i.e., latrine duty and some others)
- Optio - Centurion's understudy. Wore feathers in tubes on the side of his helmet and carried a distinctive knobbed staff.
- Optio ad spem Ordines - an Optio who is actually in line for a promotion to Centurion.
- Tesserarius - Keeper of the watchwords and minor administrative assistant for HQ staff.
- Cornicen - one of the Legion's musicians; also did admin stuff.
- Centurio - Centurion. As name implies, commanded between 80-100 men including his Optio. Equivalent to a modern-day senior NCO or field-grade officer. Promotion of Centuriones was a little complicated; some did outrank others, but whether they moved forward line-by-line or cohort-by-cohort is still a matter of much scholarly debate. In my games I use a hybrid system which is probably as good a guess as anyone else's.
- Signifer - Standard-bearer, always a Centurion, for a maniple (two centuries) or a cohort (three maniples).
- Primi Ordines - Centurion of the First Cohort, considered the best troops in the Legion.
- Aquilifer - carried the Legion's Eagle. Had to be an exceptional fighter (YOU try it with a metal bird on a twelve-foot pole!!). May also have had some religious functions as guardian of the numen legionis or Spirit of the Legion.
- Primus Pilus - Centurion of the First Century of the First Cohort, and thus the chief Centurion of the Legion.