(pl. cohortēs) In the early Roman republic the infantry provided by the allies were organized in separate cohortes of varying strength, each under a Roman or native prefect. In the legions the cohort was first used as a tactical unit by Cornelius Scipio Africanus in Spain, but for over a century it was employed alongside the manipular organization (see manipulus) before the latter was superseded in the field. The cohort was made up of three maniples, or six centuries. There were ten cohortes in a legion.
From the time of Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, the general's personal bodyguard was known as the cohors praetōria. By the middle of the 1st cent. bc, the term was used also to describe the group of personal friends and acquaintances which accompanied a provincial governor. This entourage was the origin of the emperor's ‘cohort of friends’; the military cohortes praetoriae were formalized in the praetorian guard.
In the imperial auxilia infantry were organized in cohorts, nominally 500 strong under prefects. In Rome, the urban troops and the vigiles also were organized in cohorts under tribunes.
Subjects: Classical Studies — Archaeology.