Ancient Roman Military Hierarchy

Ancient roman army or military was also termed as a roman region which was specially created and recruited by roman citizens.  In the ancient times, the roman military consisted of 5000 soldiers and divided into different ranks and departments, thus creating a hierarchical structure.

The hierarchy consisted of certain officers working on higher ranks and these had the maximum responsibility and skills. As the pyramid tapered down, the rank or power kept decreasing. If you wish to understand the ancient Roman military hierarchy better, you can go through the following given information.

Ancient Roman Military Hierarchy

Senior Officers

At the top of the pyramid came the senior officers who were the most experienced, most skilled and most respected. They were divided into ranks and positions, which are given as follows:

  • Imperial Legate: this position was given to the head or two or more legions.He was also the province’s governor and was recruited by the emperor.
  • Legion Legate: he was the commander of the overall legion and was also the provincial governor. He was also given the responsibility of heading the auxiliary units sometimes.
  • Broad Band Tribune: appointed by the senate’s emperor, this tribune was comprised of young and less experienced men who worked under the legion.
  • Camp Prefect: this position was the third in command after the Broad Band Tribune and was occupied by a veteran officers who had finished about 25 years with the legions.
  • Narrow Band Tribunes: these were the lower ranking tribunes and each legion had 5 of these. They were responsible for fulfilling the role of administrative officers. They often served the role of administrative officers.


There were many ranks and grades within the section of centurions which basically meant that there was a wide scope for promotions.  The head of the centurions was called the primus pilus or the first file. He commanded or headed the first century of the first cohort. The next officer was the primus prior who headed the 2nd to 10th cohort.  After him came the primi ordines and then all the other centurions. Each legion consisted of around 60 centurions and they formed a crucial part of the military.

Lower Ranks

The following are some of the lower ranks of the ancient roman military:

  • Optio-there was one optio for each centurion and these people were appointed by the centurions themselves.
  • Tesserarius-there was one tesserarius or guard commander for each century and were second to optios and were paid lesser than them as well.
  • Decurio-the cavalry unit’s head
  • Decanus– commander or head of contubernium.