Germany cast iron feet ornate with roman centurion. (19th)
A centurion (Latin: centurio; Greek: εκατόνταρχος (hekatontarchos), κεντούριων (kentūriōn)) was a professional officer of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Most centurions commanded a century (centuria) of 80 men, but senior centurions commanded cohorts, or took senior staff roles in their legion.
Centurions took their title from the fact that they commanded a century. Centuries were so-called because they originally numbered roughly 100 men. Just after that they numbered 60 men each and were paired into maniples, one with greater authority. After the Marian reforms, however, the standard establishment was set at 80 men.
The Roman Centurion’s Song
(Roman Occupation of Britain, A.D. 300)
LEGATE, I had the news last night – my cohort ordered home
By ships to Portus Itius and thence by road to Rome.
I’ve marched the companies aboard, the arms are stowed below:
Now let another take my sword. Command me not to go!
I’ve served in Britain forty years, from Vectis to the Wall,
I have none other home than this, nor any life at all.
Last night I did not understand, but, now the hour draws near
That calls me to my native land, I feel that land is here.
Here where men say my name was made, here where my work was done;
Here where my dearest dead are laid – my wife – my wife and son;
Here where time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service, love,
Have rooted me in British soil. Ah, how can I remove?
For me this land, that sea, these airs, those folk and fields suffice.
What purple Southern pomp can match our changeful Northern skies,
Black with December snows unshed or pearled with August haze –
The clanging arch of steel-grey March, or June’s long-lighted days?
You’ll follow widening Rhodanus till vine an olive lean
Aslant before the sunny breeze that sweeps Nemausus clean
To Arelate’s triple gate; but let me linger on,
Here where our stiff-necked British oaks confront Euroclydon!
You’ll take the old Aurelian Road through shore-descending pines
Where, blue as any peacock’s neck, the Tyrrhene Ocean shines.
You’ll go where laurel crowns are won, but -will you e’er forget
The scent of hawthorn in the sun, or bracken in the wet?
Let me work here for Britain‘s sake – at any task you will –
A marsh to drain, a road to make or native troops to drill.
Some Western camp (I know the Pict) or granite Border keep,
Mid seas of heather derelict, where our old messmates sleep.
Legate, I come to you in tears – My cohort ordered home!
I’ve served in Britain forty years. What should I do in Rome?
Here is my heart, my soul, my mind – the only life I know.
I cannot leave it all behind. Command me not to go!
LEGIO’S XVII – XVIII – XIX These three Legions were probably created by Octavian in 41-40 BC. As of 30 BC, all three were most likely stationed along the Rhine frontier and took part in the invasion of Germany between the Rhine and Elba Rivers. In 9 AD all three of the Legions (20,000 men) were ambushed and destroyed by the forces of Arminius (Hermann) a German barbarian chief of the Cherusi in the Teutoburger Vald (forest) in the Grotenburg region. The legions were on march from summer to winter quarters. Their commander, Publius Quinctilius Varus committed suicide and the Legion’s Numbers were retired and not used again. The “Eagles” of Legion XIX and one of the others were subsequently recovered by Germanicus in 15-16 AD and the remaining one in 42 AD. The Teutoburger Vald disaster was largely the result of treachery and treason of Arminius, a Germanic who had obtained the trust of Rome; and that the Legions were attacked in a forest swamp, a closed-in and restricting environment where the Roman Army was unaccustomed to doing battle.