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The plural of the Latin word princeps.

For botanical uses (capitalized) see Principes (botany)


[edit] Principes

Specifically, usually in the plural, in the military, the so-called Principes formed the second line of battle in the Roman Republican Army. They were experienced soldiers, positioned behind the hastati and in front of the triarii. Like all soldiers of the Roman Republican Army, they wore what armor they could afford, which was generally better than that of the hastati; of better make and material. Like the hastati, the Principes were also equipped with a pilum and a gladius, and used much in the same way.

In battle, the principes were meant to counter attack if the hastati happened to fail in the initial engagement. This would allow for the hastati to fall back without catastrophic losses to the army; the principes could continue fighting, enabling the hastati to regroup. Originally, the principes were organized like the hastati, in centuries of 60 under a Centurion. However, by the late Republican era, they contained 80 men like the triarii. Two centuries comprised a maniple and 10 maniples were used in battle line formation.

[edit] Political

In the period of the later Republic and early Principate (approx. following the Third Punic War and the razing of Carthage) principes began to refer not only to the men of the second line of battle in a Manipular/ Polybian Legion, but also to the men of the first rank of Roman Society. The traditional patriaciate of Nobiles and Optimates along with those successful equites and novi homines were the first citizens of Rome. Through their dignitas, auctoritas, and virtus, these men commanded the allegiance of the plebeians and allied Italian states alike.

The proscriptions of Sulla and later Octavianus particularly targeted the politically unlucky men of principes status.

[edit] Notes


[edit] References

[edit] Primary Sources

  • Polybius. The Rise of the Roman Empire. Trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert. New York: Penguin Books, 1979.

[edit] Secondary Sources

  • Holland, Tom. Rubicon. New York: Anchor Books, 2003.
  • Gruen, Erich S. The Last Generation of the Roman Republic. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.

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[edit] See also


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