- from Roman Empire
The power of the Roman Empire came from its large, well-trained army. Roman soldiers made conquest possible. Soldiers were still important even after lands were taken. Troops kept conquered peoples under control. They also guarded the empire’s borders.
Roman soldiers were busy. When not fighting, they were building forts and bridges. They were standing guard duty. And they were running mines and quarries, or repairing roads. When they weren’t doing any of these jobs, they were probably marching. Many days they hiked 20 miles carrying backpacks weighing over 60 pounds.
In the first century A.D., the army had about 150,000 Roman citizens and 150,000 noncitizens. Most were volunteers. A Roman soldier was called a legionary. That’s because the army was divided into large units called legions. For training and fighting, each legion was split into smaller groups of 80 men each. Those were called centuries. Their commanders were centurions. Poor men often chose a military career because it offered meals, good pay, and the chance to learn a trade. But getting into the army was a lot easier than getting out. Soldiers served for 25 years.