Each legion had as its standard an eagle (aquila,
Fig. I), usually of bronze or silver, on a wooden staff. This was entrusted to the care of the
first cohort, and usually to its
senior centurion (primipilus).
Hence this officer was sometimes
called aquilifer; though the same
term was applied to the men he
selected to carry the standard
Each cohort, also, had a standard of its own (signum, Fig. 2).
The bearer of this was called signifer. Sometimes the legion
for brevity was called aquila, and
in like manner the cohort was denoted by signum. The signum
was usually an animal—a sheep, for instance — on a staff.
Of course it would differ for different cohorts, so that the men
in the confusion of battle might know their proper place. The cavalry and light
troops (§§ 17, 18) carried a vexillum (Fig. 3).
This was a little banner,
white or red, attached to
a short horizontal piece
of wood or metal surmounting the staff.
B. G. II, 25
B. G. IV, 261
There was another
banner called vexillum, the standard of the general. This
was white, with an inscription in red letters giving the name
of the general, his army, etc. It was placed near the general's tent in the camp, and when displayed was the sign for
march or battle.
B. G. II, 201
C. III, 89.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Caesar's Army: A Study of the Military Art of the Romans in the Last Days of the Republic.
Contributors: Harry Pratt Judson. - Author.
Publisher: Biblo and Tannen.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1961.
Page number: 13.
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