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Military terms of Romans

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Roman army during the time of Emperor Vitellius 69 CE
Roman army during the time of Emperor Vitellius 69 CE | Picture by Nicholas Subkov

Military service

  • Sacramentum – holy, military oath of loyalty in Roman legions, sometimes annually;
  • Sub aquila (under the eagle) – on active duty;
  • Sub cura – looked after;
  • Sub signis (in line with the standards) in military service;
  • Sub vexillo (under the flag) – the veteran was required to serve in lighter duty;
  • Subsignanus miles – soldier on active duty;
  • Constitutio (regulations of service) – several rules of the military Constitutiones that were formulated by the emperors, from Augustus to Hadrian;
  • Statio – secondment camp, camp;
  • Beneficiarius (beneficiary) – either (1) a soldier with special powers, or (2) military police;
  • Beneficiarius consularis – soldier attached to the provincial governor’s staff;
  • Beneficiarius legati legionis – the soldier assigned to the commander’s staff;
  • Beneficiarius praefecti praetorio – a soldier serving in the headquarters of the praetorian prefect;
  • Beneficiarius praefecti Urbis – a soldier serving in the headquarters of the city prefect;
  • Beneficiarius procuratoris – a soldier serving in the proxy’s staff;
  • Beneficiarius praefecti proconsulis – a soldier serving on the staff of a governor appointed by the senate;
  • Beneficiarius sexmestris – a soldier appointed for six months as beneficiarius;
  • Beneficiarius tribuni – a soldier attached to the staff of the military tribune;
  • Collatus – a soldier selected to serve in another unit.


  • Conquisitor – recruiting officer;
  • Tiro – recruit;
  • Contiro – colleague recruit;
  • Murcus – a potential recruit who cut off his thumb to escape from military service;
  • Probatoria – registration (recruitment) document;
  • Probatus – recruiter considered fit for service;
  • Signaculum – identification disc, worn by recruits;
  • Adcrescens (youth) – the legionary’s offspring, who followed in their father’s footsteps, and therefore received their rights before entering service (4th century CE);
  • Wiatyk (travelling money) – money spent on a recruit during the initial training period;
  • Tirocinium – first recruit campaign.

Roman soldiers

  • Legionary (soldier) – each soldier had two weapons: gladius (sword) and pilum (javelin);
  • Gaesatus – soldier with gaesum (iron spear);
  • Lanciarius – soldier with lancea (javelin);
  • Accensus (reservist) – light infantry soldier;
  • Akontistes (javelin thrower) – light infantry;
  • Auxiliarisauxilia soldier;
  • Ballistarius – artilleryman responsible for the ballista;
  • Bellator (warrior) – soldier, warrior;
  • Burgarius – soldier assigned to burgus;
  • Cohortalis – soldier belonging to the cohort;
  • Collega – member of the same unit;
  • Comitatensis – a soldier belonging to the later Roman army;
  • Commanipularis – friend in arms, colleague;
  • Discens – recruit;
  • Ferentarius – either (1), Republican Light Armored Legionary, (2) Republican Legionary Repeller, (3) Republican Light Horseman, or (4) Military Servant;
  • Gregalis (Gregarius) (private) – regular soldier;
  • Hoplites – heavy-armed soldier;
  • Miles – regular soldier;
  • Miles cohortis – soldier belonging to the cohort;
  • Miles gloriosus (great soldier) – braggart soldier;
  • Miles Gregarius (Miles gregalis) – regular soldier;
  • Miles legionis – a soldier belonging to a legion, a legionary;
  • Milex – soldier;
  • Manipularis – Heavy infantry soldier serving in manipulation;
  • Pedatura – infantry;
  • Peditatus – infantry;
  • Pedés – infantry;
  • Scutatus – a soldier with a larger shield;
  • Simplaris – basic wage soldier;
  • Triarius (Tertiary) – heavy infantry soldier;
  • Velites – lightly armoured legionaries;
  • Volones (Volonum) – liberated slaves who enlisted in the army.

Military specialists

  • Agaso (Strator) – orderly;
  • Adiutor – assistant, orderly;
  • Arcuarius – archer;
  • Interpres – translator;
  • Secutor – bodyguard, orderly.

Military officials

  • Ab Actis – document officer;
  • Actarius – clerk;
  • Scriba – scribe;
  • Adiutor – assistant, orderly;
  • Libraria Advisor – assistant;
  • Cibariator – procurement officer;
  • Exactus – accountant;
  • Excerptor – secretary;
  • Librarius – official responsible for the archive;
  • Notarius – secretary.

Military servants

  • Lixa – military servant, henchman;
  • Baro – servant, groom;
  • Cacula – servant;
  • Calo – groom, servant;
  • Galearius – servant.
  • Sander van Dorst, Glossary
  • Ireneusz A. Łuć, Boni et mali milites Romani. Relacje między żołnierzami wojsk rzymskich w okresie Wczesnego Cesarstwa, Kraków 2010

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