Cohortes urbanae

The cohortes urbanae (Latin meaning urban cohorts) of ancient Rome were created by Augustus to counterbalance the enormous power of the Praetorian Guard in the city of Rome and serve as a police force. They were commanded by the urban prefect.


Their primary role was to police Rome and counteract roaming mobs and gangs that often haunted its streets during the Republic. The urban cohorts thus acted as a heavy duty police force, capable of riot control duties, while their contemporaries, the Vigiles, policed the streets and fought fires. As a trained paramilitary organization, the urban cohorts could, on rare occasions, go to battle if necessary. This role, however, was only called upon in dire situations. Augustus established a city police force in Rome consisting of three urban cohorts (cohortes urbanae) under a newly appointed prefect of the city.[1] By this time the gangs of Titus Annius Milo, Publius Clodius, etc. which had been used by politicians during the Republic had been eliminated, mostly due to the efforts of Pompeius Magnus and, with the founding of the Principate, had become moot since power no longer resided in the Roman Senate and elected officials.

Unlike the Vigiles, who mostly operated at night as firefighters and watchmen, members of the urban cohorts were considered legionaries, though with higher pay than the regular legions—if not quite as much as the Praetorian Guards—and tended to receive slightly higher donatives though, again, not as much as the Praetorians.[2]


Originally the cohortes urbanae were divided into three cohorts, each cohort being commanded by one tribune and six centurions. In the time of the Flavians this was increased to four cohorts. Each cohort contained around five hundred men. Only free citizens were eligible to serve in their ranks. As with the Praetorians, the men of the urban cohorts were predominantly of Italian stock.[3] Urban cohorts, (known as city cohorts in non-Roman cities) were later created in both the Roman North African city of Carthage and the city of Lugdunum in Roman Gaul (modern Lyon).[4]

See also


  1. ^ Grant, Michael (1978). History Of Rome. New York: NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 256. ISBN 0-684-15986-4.
  2. ^ Southern, Pat (2006). The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History. New York: NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-0-19-532878-3.
  3. ^ The Imperial Roman Army
  4. ^ The Imperial Roman Army

External links


Ateste (modern Este, Italy) was an ancient town of Venetia, at the southern foot of the Euganean hills, 43 feet above sea-level and 22 miles southwest of Patavium (modern Padua). The site was occupied in very early times, as archaeology begun in the late 19th century showed.

Aurelian Walls

The Aurelian Walls (Italian: Mura aureliane) are a line of city walls built between 271 AD and 275 AD in Rome, Italy, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Aurelian and Probus. They superseded the earlier Servian Wall built during the 4th century BC.

The walls enclosed all the seven hills of Rome plus the Campus Martius and, on the left bank of the Tiber, the Trastevere district. The river banks within the city limits appear to have been left unfortified, although they were fortified along the Campus Martius. The size of the entire enclosed area is 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres).


Cohort may refer to:

Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum

Cohort (military unit), the basic tactical unit of a Roman legion

Cohort (statistics), a group of subjects with a common defining characteristic, for example age group

Cohort (taxonomy), in biology, one of the taxonomic ranks

Cohort study, a form of longitudinal study used in medicine and social science

Cohort Studios, a video game development company

Generational cohort, an aggregation of individuals who experience the same event within the same time interval

Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value

Cohort (military unit)

A cohort (from the Latin cohors, plural cohortes, see wikt:cohors for full inflection table) was a standard tactical military unit of a Roman legion, though the standard changed with time and situation, and was composed of between 360-800 soldiers. A cohort is considered to be the equivalent of a modern military battalion. The cohort replaced the maniple following the reforms attributed to Gaius Marius in 107 BC. Shortly after the military reforms of Marius, each legion formed 10 cohorts. The cohorts were named "first cohort," "second cohort" etc. The first cohort gathered the most experienced legionaries, while the legionaries in the tenth cohort were the least experienced. Until the middle of the third century AD, 10 cohorts (about 5000 men total) made up a Roman legion.

Constitution of the Late Roman Empire

The constitution of the late Roman Empire was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down, mainly through precedent, which defined the manner in which the late Roman Empire was governed. As a matter of historical convention, the late Roman Empire emerged from the Roman Principate (the early Roman Empire), with the accession of Diocletian in AD 284, his reign marking the beginning of the Dominate. The constitution of the Dominate ultimately recognized monarchy as the true source of power, and thus ended the fiction of dyarchy, in which emperor and Senate governed the empire together.Diocletian's reforms to the imperial government finally ended the ruse that the old republican magistracies (e.g. consuls and praetors) were anything more than municipal officials with powers beyond Rome itself. By the late Empire, the consuls had no real duties beyond that of presiding at Senate meetings and the duties of the lesser magistrates were effectively just the organisation of various games. Most other magistracies simply disappeared.

Diocletian attempted to reform the imperial system itself into a structure in which four emperors, consisting of two Augusti and two Caesares, each governed one fourth of the Empire. Known as the Tetrarchy, this constitutional structure, however, failed to even outlast Diocletian, who lived to see the collapse of his system and the civil wars that followed in his retirement after abdication in AD 305.

He also enacted major administrative reforms to the Empire. His division of the Empire into east and west, with each half under the command of a separate emperor, remained with brief interruptions of political unity. Although it remained the sole capital until Constantinople was elevated to that status in 359, the city of Rome ceased to the seat of the imperial government: it was by the Urban Prefect. A vicar of the Prefect of Italy headed the imperial administration of Italy south of the Apennines and the Islands. The Senate and executive magistrates continued to function as Diocletian's constitution had originally specified. Diocletian's civil and military divisions of the empire remained in effect with little change though Upper Egypt from the mid-fifth was governed by a general, the dux, who also exercised civilian authority over the population. Later emperors Constantine would modify Diocletian's constitution by changing the roles of officials somewhat but not the administrative framework. It was not until Justinian I 527-565 that major changes that saw the near abolition of the regional tier of officials, and severe weakening of the Treasury (sacrae largitones) and Crown Estates.


The equites (; Latin: eques nom. singular; sometimes referred to as "knights" in modern times) constituted the second of the property-based classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the senatorial class. A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques.

Forum Suarium

The Forum Suarium was the pork forum venalium of ancient Rome during the empire, mentioned first in two inscriptions dating c. AD 200. This market was near the barracks of the cohortes urbanae in the northern part of the campus Martius, probably close to the present Via di Propaganda, and its administration was in the hands of the prefect or of one of his officers.

Gaius Annius Anullinus

Gaius Annius Anullinus (died 4th century) was a Roman senator who was appointed consul in AD 295.

Lucius Aurelius Marcianus

Lucius Aurelius Marcianus was a Roman soldier whose military career coincided with the period of crisis that characterized the middle decades of the Third Century AD – see Crisis of the Third Century. Probably of humble origins in one of the Illyrician provinces of the Empire he was one of the group of men from this region who chose a military career – or had it chosen for them – whose professional capabilities brought them to the fore of public life in those troubled times. Marcianus rose to the highest levels of the military hierarchy. The evidence suggests that he earned the trust of the Emperors Gallienus and Claudius II and, possibly, Marcus Aurelius Probus among their successors and that he was one of the principal commanders in the prolonged war against a coalition of what the late antique Greek writers called Scythian peoples whose incursions in that period seemed to threaten the very survival of the Roman state. These would refer to the major Germanic and Iranian peoples, among them the Goths and Roxolani, who invaded the Roman empire across the lower Danube River.

Nothing is known of his private life.

Lucius Petronius Taurus Volusianus

Volusianus was a Roman citizen, apparently of equestrian origins, whose career in the Imperial Service in the mid-Third Century AD carried him from a relatively modest station in life to the highest public offices and senatorial status in a very few years. He may have secured his first appointments before the Licinian Dynasty - (Valerian and his son Gallienus) - acceded to the Empire in 253 AD, but it was in the course of their reign that his upward progress achieved an almost unprecedented momentum and the second factor seems to have been a consequence of the first. The nature of his relationship to the Licinii is uncertain, but it seems likely that a common origin in the Etruscan region of central Italy at least predisposed Gallienus in his favour and he seems to have been that emperor's most trusted servant and adviser during the period of his sole reign - 260(?)-268 AD.

Pax Romana (reenactment)

Pax Romana is a Classical reenactment society based in the Netherlands, with the main goal to show Romans in the Netherlands as they would have lived in the last quarter of the first century AD.

Praefectus urbi

The praefectus urbanus, also called praefectus urbi or urban prefect in English, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity. The office survived the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, and the last urban prefect of Rome, named Iohannes, is attested in 599. In the East, in Constantinople, the office survived until the 13th century.

Praetorian Guard

The Praetorian Guard (Latin: cohortes praetorianae) was an elite unit of the Imperial Roman army whose members served as personal bodyguards to the Roman emperors. During the era of the Roman Republic, the Praetorians served as a small escort force for high-ranking officials such as senators or provincial governors like procurators, and also serving as bodyguards for high ranking officers within the Roman legions. With the republic's transition into the Roman Empire, however, the first emperor, Augustus, founded the Guard as his personal security detail. Although they continued to serve in this capacity for roughly three centuries, the Guard became notable for its intrigue and interference in Roman politics, to the point of overthrowing emperors and proclaiming their successors. In 312, the Guard was disbanded by Constantine the Great.

Praetorian prefect

The praetorian prefect (Latin: praefectus praetorio, Greek: ἔπαρχος/ὕπαρχος τῶν πραιτωρίων) was a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides. Under Constantine I, the office was much reduced in power and transformed into a purely civilian administrative post, while under his successors, territorially-defined praetorian prefectures emerged as the highest-level administrative division of the Empire. The prefects again functioned as the chief ministers of the state, with many laws addressed to them by name. In this role, praetorian prefects continued to be appointed by the Eastern Roman Empire (and the Ostrogothic Kingdom) until the reign of Heraclius in the 7th century AD, when wide-ranging reforms reduced its power and converted it to a mere overseer of provincial administration. The last traces of the prefecture disappeared in the Byzantine Empire by the 840s.

The term praefectus praetorio was often abbreviated in inscriptions as 'PR PR' or 'PPO'.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum (Italian: Foro Romano), is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.

For centuries the Forum was the center of day-to-day life in Rome: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million or more sightseers yearly.Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman Kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.

Other archaic shrines to the northwest, such as the Umbilicus Urbis and the Vulcanal (Shrine of Vulcan), developed into the Republic's formal Comitium (assembly area). This is where the Senate—as well as Republican government itself—began. The Senate House, government offices, tribunals, temples, memorials and statues gradually cluttered the area.

Over time the archaic Comitium was replaced by the larger adjacent Forum and the focus of judicial activity moved to the new Basilica Aemilia (179 BC). Some 130 years later, Julius Caesar built the Basilica Julia, along with the new Curia Julia, refocusing both the judicial offices and the Senate itself. This new Forum, in what proved to be its final form, then served as a revitalized city square where the people of Rome could gather for commercial, political, judicial and religious pursuits in ever greater numbers.

Eventually much economic and judicial business would transfer away from the Forum Romanum to the larger and more extravagant structures (Trajan's Forum and the Basilica Ulpia) to the north. The reign of Constantine the Great saw the construction of the last major expansion of the Forum complex—the Basilica of Maxentius (312 AD). This returned the political center to the Forum until the fall of the Western Roman Empire almost two centuries later.

Roman military diploma

A Roman military diploma was a document inscribed in bronze certifying that the holder was honourably discharged from the Roman armed forces and/or had received the grant of Roman citizenship from the emperor as reward for service.The diploma was a notarised copy of an original constitutio (decree) issued by the emperor in Rome, listing by regiment (or unit) the eligible veterans. The constitutio, recorded on a large bronze plate, was lodged in the military archive at Rome (none such has been found; presumably they were melted down in later times).

Structural history of the Roman military

The structural history of the Roman military concerns the major transformations in the organization and constitution of ancient Rome's armed forces, "the most effective and long-lived military institution known to history." From its origins around 800 BC to its final dissolution in AD 476 with the demise of the Western Roman Empire, Rome's military organization underwent substantial structural change. At the highest level of structure, the forces were split into the Roman army and the Roman navy, although these two branches were less distinct than in many modern national defense forces. Within the top levels of both army and navy, structural changes occurred as a result of both positive military reform and organic structural evolution. These changes can be divided into four distinct phases.

Phase I

The army was derived from obligatory annual military service levied on the citizenry, as part of their duty to the state. During this period, the Roman army would wage seasonal campaigns against largely local adversaries.Phase II

As the extent of the territories falling under Roman control expanded and the size of the forces increased, the soldiery gradually became salaried professionals. As a consequence, military service at the lower (non-salaried) levels became progressively longer-term. Roman military units of the period were largely homogeneous and highly regulated. The army consisted of units of citizen infantry known as legions (Latin: legiones) as well as non-legionary allied troops known as auxilia. The latter were most commonly called upon to provide light infantry, logistical, or cavalry support.Phase III

At the height of the Roman Empire's power, forces were tasked with manning and securing the borders of the vast provinces which had been brought under Roman control. Serious strategic threats were less common in this period and emphasis was placed on preserving gained territory. The army underwent changes in response to these new needs and became more dependent on fixed garrisons than on march-camps and continuous field operations.Phase IV

As Rome began to struggle to keep control over its sprawling territories, military service continued to be salaried and professional for Rome's regular troops. However, the trend of employing allied or mercenary elements was expanded to such an extent that these troops came to represent a substantial proportion of the armed forces. At the same time, the uniformity of structure found in Rome's earlier military disappeared. Soldiery of the era ranged from lightly armed mounted archers to heavy infantry, in regiments of varying size and quality. This was accompanied by a trend in the late empire of an increasing predominance of cavalry rather than infantry troops, as well as a requirement for more mobile operations. In this period there was more focus (on all frontiers but the east) on smaller units of independently-operating troops, engaging less in set-piece battles and more in low-intensity, guerilla actions.

Traianus Mucianus

Traianus Mucianus was a Roman soldier of Thracian origins of the second half of the Third Century AD who rose from the lowest ranks of the army to senior commands. He was almost certainly a remarkable soldier. However, the successive promotions he secured in the latter part of his career are thought to owe much also to the favour shown him by men highly placed in the Imperial entourage whose patronage secured him advantageous postings in the Imperial comitatus, the mobile field force under the direct command of the Emperor, that was undergoing massive expansion at this time.

It seems likely that Mucianus's recorded career was passed entirely in military service. However, information relating to his later life is so fragmentary that it is not possible to be certain of this. The evidence can be construed as to read that, after achieving equestrian status (see Roman equestrian order), he was from time to time given gubernatorial postings in his home-province of Thracia and elsewhere.


The Vigiles or more properly the Vigiles Urbani ("watchmen of the City") or Cohortes Vigilum ("cohorts of the watchmen") were the firefighters and police of Ancient Rome.

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