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The Ninth Cohort Of Batavians
Topic Started: Feb 2 2010, 05:26 PM (1,034 Views)
Badger
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The numbering of Cohorts has puzzled me a bit. Some sources on the Roman army (alas, the later ones like the Notitia Dignatatum are the most rounded out) suggest that the ratio of Legion Troops to Auxilliaries was around 1:1. With an army of several hundred thousand, that makes a lot of Cohorts.
Say for argument, an army of 250,000 men. That makes about 125,000 auxilliaries.
Now, if a Cohort is around 500 men, that would make something like 250 Cohorts.
So, why do we only hear about the low numbered ones?
Gaul being a rather large province there ought to be dozens of Gallic Cohorts, but if any Cohort in Britain has a number over 10 I have not heard of it.

Could each military area had its numbering system? It would seem unlikely that a 4th Cohort in Brittania would be confused with one on the Dacian frontier. Maybe there was a "4th" in each place?

No doubt wiser heads can weigh in on this.

Tim Wolter
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Thanks Andy, I suspected something of the sort.

As to the Notitia, it is certainly one of the oddest documents out there. Near as I can tell most scholars think it was compiled under Theodosius as a hand book to help his sons rule.

Now, Theo had his flaws, but no dummy he, it was clear Honorius and Arcadius needed the help!

But what survived seems such a mess, I wonder if it was no more than a pretty scrap book that the idiot princes could use while moving non existent units across an inaccurate map of a crumbling empire.

Who knows how many of those units even existed anymore, or existed only on parchment so that somebody's cousin Lucius could be paymaster and pocket the solidi!

Tim Wolter
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