Centurion Definition and Meaning

A centurion was the head of a century: a militia of the Roman Empire composed of one hundred soldiers, according to the dictionary of the DigoPaul. Centurions, therefore, were officers who had administrative and managerial powers.

The centuries belonged to groupings known as cohorts. Beyond that indicated by the RAE, these militias did not always have a hundred members. In fact, it was common for them to have between thirty and eighty soldiers.

The centurions directed the centuries and, in turn, were part of a hierarchy within each cohort. To differentiate themselves from the rest of the members of the militia, the centurions wore a particular uniform that included armor, a white tunic, leg guards, and a crested helmet. They also had a baton and, unlike ordinary soldiers, carried the sword in the left sector of the body.

The uniform of the Roman centurion was one of the fundamental elements to distinguish them from other soldiers, and this is known thanks to the iconographic sources that are reflected mainly in certain historical reliefs, such as the Arch of Orange, in various funerary inscriptions and in certain sarcophagi dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries.

The uniform tunic was short and white in color; during times of very low temperatures it was worn in conjunction with shorts. The armor was made of scales or chain mail; in general, it was covered with pendant bracelets and decorative medallions.

As mentioned above, the Roman centurion carried his short sword (called a gladius) on his left side. He held it to the body with a belt that had the sheath attached to its frame. On his legs he wore protective pieces called greaves, which extended from the base of the foot to the knee.

The crest that was placed on the helmet of the Roman centurions crossed the head laterally. According to various historians and theorists, at first all the soldiers used this plume and its arrangement was not arbitrary at all, but was intended so that the rest of their companions could see them from behind; However, during the time of the Empire it was not common for all soldiers to wear a crest as it was reserved for centurions, and thus it became one of the elements that easily distinguished them.

Although there is no archaeological evidence that indicates the color of the crest, it is believed that it could be red, black or white. Finally there are the sandals of the centurions, which were similar to those of the other soldiers.

In their work, the centurions were assisted by the principals, non-commissioned officers who were located below them in the hierarchical structure of the militias. Among the main there were three different grades.

Centurion, on the other hand, is the name of a tank created in England in the mid- 1940’s. These vehicles were used for almost half a century and participated in various warfare.

In 2010 a British film called Centurion was released, belonging to the action genre and directed by Neil Marshall. The story is based on the legend of the massacre of the Ninth Legion that took place in the second century in the part of Britain known by the Latin name Caledonia. The main characters of the film are Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko and Dominic West.

In Uruguay, there is a small town called CenturiĆ³n, which is located in the department of Cerro Largo. Very close to the town is the so-called Centurion Pass, which allows you to reach Brazil.


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