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Decimus Furius Octavius ​​Secundus – example of career in Roman army

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman centurion from the 1st century CE
Roman centurion from the 1st century CE

An interesting inscription from Philippi (Greece) has been preserved to our times, describing the life and military service of a certain Decimus Furius Octavius ​​Secundus. He was a Roman soldier in the first half of the 2nd century CE. The artefact perfectly shows us what a career in the Roman army was like.

Secundus was from the city of Cures in central Italy, west of the road via Salaria. He had the inscription erected at his own expense.

Secudnus began his military career as a soldier in the 10th city cohort, and then was transferred to the Praetorian Guard, specifically to the 6th Cohort. He then held a position on the headquarters of the Praetorian Prefect and then became optio and the de facto deputy commander of the VI Praetorian Cohort. Later he became ensign (signifer), then treasurer of the branch (curator fisci), to finally take the position of cornicularius, adjutant of the centurion. After serving 16 years in the Praetorian Squads, he was given the opportunity to remain in service as evocatus Augusti (after having been honourably retired from the division).

Secundus then joined the regular legion – he became the centurion of the legion X Fretensis that took part in suppressing the Bar Kochba revolt in Judea (132-135 CE). During the fights he deserved courage, for which he received corona aurea, necklace (torques), bracelets (armillae) and round medallions attached to the chest (phalerae).

Secundus was then transferred to the legion I Italica, where he was first a centurion and then a primus pilus – the highest-ranking centurion in the Roman legion and commander of the first cohort.

Secudnus left the service and entered the equine status to devote himself finally as an official (duumvir) in the cities of Actia Nicopolis and Ulipa in Epirus, mainly in overseeing censuses.

As we can see, Secundus held offices of a bureaucratic nature (mainly the period of service in praetorian divisions) and military (period of service in the legions) during his career. Finally, after retiring from regular military service, Secundus made a civil sacrifice in the local community in which he settled.

  • Ireneusz Łuć, Prozopografia w badaniach nad karierami żołnierzy wojsk rzymskich

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