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tribūnī mīlitum


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The six most senior officers within a legion, of whom at least five years' military experience was expected. They were equestrians, though some were the sons of senators, and occasionally senior men took the post. The tribunes of the first four legions recruited each year were elected by the people, while those for additional legions were chosen by the commander. Two tribunes acting in rotation commanded a legion for two months, but they had no tactical responsibilities and their duties encompassed the welfare and discipline of the troops and supervision of the camp. Under Caesar, as legates were used more extensively, tribunes declined in importance.

In the imperial period one of the six legionary tribunes was normally of senatorial rank (tribunus lāticlāvius), a young man early in his career, probably holding the post for one year. The other five tribunes were equestrians (tribuni angusticlāviī), who were often more experienced in army life. By the mid‐1st cent. ad a pattern had emerged in which many equestrians held at least three military posts—prefect of an auxiliary cohort (see cohors), tribunus militum, prefect of an auxiliary ala (see alae). Tribunes also commanded individual cohorts in the urban troops. See cursus honorum.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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