12 Ranks of Roman Military Officers

Roman Army Ranks

Historians agree that the first genuine professional armies in the history of the world were established by the Roman Empire. All the ancient civilizations that were first established in the world had their own military formations and institutions, but it was the Roman Empire that organized a real standing army that was complete in organizational structure.

Roman army ranks were the epitome of organization and hierarchy, and as such they served as the model for all other European armies that were established after.

While it is true that the officers then did not carry the same titles as the military officers of today’s modern armies, there are still many similarities between the roles and functions they played. Their duties and responsibilities have many parallelisms as well.

The ranks were created to differentiate the power of each military officer. They have distinct roles and to effectively lead the soldier into any battle or war, officers must step forward and let the legion follow them.

The Different Ranks

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The following are the 12 ranks of Roman military officers: the Tribunus Laticlavius; the Legatus Legionis; the Legatus Augusti Proparetore; the Praefecti; the Tribunus Angusticlavii; the Praefectus Castrorum; the Centurion, the Primi Ordines; the Pilus Prior; the Optio; the Signifer; and finally, the Tesserarius.

The highest-ranking officer in the Roman legion was the Legatus Augusti Proparetore. An officer who carried this rank also functioned as a provincial military governor. His minimum service is four years but he can still serve for as long as he likes. He can commend anyone even in small regions.

The Tribunus laticlavius refers to the senior officers. They came from the senatorial class of Rome. Even as the power of the senate and the senators diminished when the Empire rose, the families of those who belonged to the class of senators still carried influence.

Senator and Soldier

The commander of a legion is called the Legatus Legionis. The commander of the roman army had under him some 5,000 soldiers, so this was also a rank of significant power and influence. Usually, the officer is also a senator and who also chose to pursue a career in the military.

After the senators, the next social class consisted of the Praefecti, similar to medieval knights. Officers from the Roman army ranks who had this position rose from being auxiliaries of an infantry cohort, then elevated to being Tribunus Anticlavius, and then finally they can become the Praefecti leading a unit of the cavalry.


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Without officers, even in our era now, an organization will not function well. They have their own roles to play that will contribute to the success of an empire. The officers are not just picked because they are the king’s favorite.

They have to undergo special training and military basics. In the past, they have already made use of their protective gears to avoid any harm and injury. Just like what we have now, maintaining an officer will also maintain the peace throughout the place.

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