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Andivius Hedulio by Edward Lucas White

Part 12 out of 12

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and on the thirteenth of the rest.

D. THE LEGION

The legion, always the largest fighting unit of the Roman armies,
corresponded most nearly to our regiment, but had also features of our
brigade. It was always rostered as of 6,000 men, all told. But the causes
which operate in all armies brought it about that a legion in the field
had usually about 5,000 men. It was divided into sixty bodies resembling
our companies, called centuries, because nominally of 100 men, each
commanded by a centurion. The Roman army never, like ours, had tiering
grades of officers; it always, theoretically, consisted of soldiers,
centurions and the commander: other officers were additional and special.
Each centurion chose from among his men an _optio_, to assist him and to
take his place if killed. These _optiones_ corresponded most nearly to our
corporals, but their duties and authority were always very vague. The
centurions corresponded to our sergeants, in that they were picked men
from the ranks, but they had all the duties and powers of our lieutenants
and, some of them, of much higher officers. Three centuries made up a
maniple, more or less like one of our battalions, each commanded by its
senior centurion. Two maniples made up a cohort, also commanded by its
senior centurion, and the ten centurions commanding cohorts were the
actual officers of the legion, its head centurion an officer of great
importance.

True, a _tribunus militum_ (tribune of the soldiers) was attached to each
cohort; but he did more advising than commanding, though, in theory, he
represented the general. The tribunes answered to our captains. Under the
Empire each legion was commanded by a _legatus_, who also represented the
general in his absence. Such an officer corresponded most nearly to our
colonel, but had many of the characteristics of a brigadier-general.

E. "_Ubi tu Caius, ego Caia._"

These words, never varied whatever the names of the bride and groom, were
the kernel of the Roman wedding ritual and after their utterance the bride
was a wife. They correspond to the "I do" and "love, honor and obey" of
our customary marriage formulas. As Caius and Caia were far and away the
most frequent names among the Romans the phrase might be rendered: "Where
you are Jack, I'm Jill."

No English words convey precisely the mingling of banter, and earnestness,
of archness, devotion, shyness and fervor implied in the Latin words as
uttered by Vedia.

F. OPTIONES

Private soldiers chosen by their centurions as informal assistant-
centurions; to take their superior's place if he fell in battle, or was
disabled or ill, and to assist him with his routine duties. They
correspond more or less to the corporals of modern armies. (See also NOTE
D.)

G. SPINA

The stone wall, platform, or long narrow structure down the middle of the
arena of a Roman circus, dividing its race-course into half laps. Along it
the teams tore at top speed, for the short turns about its rounded ends
their drivers reined them in. The spina was about 660 feet long. It varied
from a low wall to a gorgeous and complicated series of structures.

H. ERGASTULUM

A hard-labor prison, whether belonging to a private person, company or
municipality, usually below ground-level, for criminal, dangerous,
unmanageable or runaway slaves.

J. COMMODUS AS AN ATHLETE

Even more than Babe Ruth at baseball Commodus was a wonder at beast-
killing in the amphitheater. Dio Cassius, who, being a senator, looked on
from a front seat, says (LXXII, 18.) that he killed a hundred bears in one
day. Herodian, who grew up with men who had known Commodus and had been
spectators of his prowess, says (I; 15; 3, 4, 5, 6.) that when he speared
lions and leopards no one saw a second javelin cast nor any wound not
fatal, that he sent his dart at will through the forehead or the heart of
an animal rushing at top speed and that his missile never struck any part
of a beast except so as both to wound and kill. Hurling his javelins from
a distance he killed a hundred lions let out of the crypts of the
Colosseum with precisely the same number of spear-casts, no dart missing
its mark.

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