ROM003-KC The Primus Pilus
The “Primus Pilus” or Primipilus was the most senior centurion of a Roman Legion. In the Legion, the “Cohort” (of which there were between 6 and 10) became the basic tactical unit of each Legion. The “Cohort” was then composed of 5 to 8 “Centuries”, each commanded by a Centurion assisted by an “Optio,” a soldier who could read and write.
The senior Centurion of the Legion and commander of the first Cohort, the Primus Pilus (First Spear) was always, a long-serving soldier and highly experienced advisor to the Legate himself and led the largest century of any particular legion – around 800 soldiers. His command would include cooks, clerks and other non combatants as well as the fighting troops. In modern terms he would be the equivalent of a Major in charge of a large battalion – sized unit.
This “Primus Pilus” is a tough well-decorated veteran of many successful campaigns. His white feathered crest atop his helmet and chest full of victory medallions testify to his senior position and status within the Legion.