Of Roman Legions and Home Warriors

As I have been writing, it became clear I needed to understand how the Warriors of Home organization. I have characters in an upcoming story who need to be former Warriors. As I was vomit writing the first draft of that work, I just used American military ranks, but as I dug deeper during re-writes I wanted something more interesting and fitting for Home.

There are a lot of influences for the world where the Space Girls come from. I related some turns of phrase in the language to British English. Obviously, the idea of a planet full of bad ass women harkens to Amazon Island and Wonder Woman. But there is also the feel of Greek and Roman in the culture as well. In art, fashion and architecture.

I got the idea I’d organize the Warriors like the greek military. Their uniforms – like Wonder Woman’s – are more Greek than Roman. But Hopilite units were not very organized. They were mostly a collection of City State armies. The Women of Home are a force to be reckoned with all over the galaxy, in all fields, not just the military. If you have the best scientist and the best social engineers, you don’t have a hodge podge of military units.

What you have is the Roman Legions.

Legion Organization

Turns out there wasn’t just one way the Romans organized their army. At the beginning, like many Roman things, it was like the Greeks. They evolved into an army that took over much of the world.

This is loosely the way they organized a roman legion

  • A legion contained 10 cohorts.
  • A cohort had 6 centuriae.
  • A centuriae was 10 contubernia.
  • A contubernia was 8 legionnaires who lived together in one tent.

From this we can determine size by doing some math:

  • 8 legionnaires in a contubernia, meaning a centuriae made of 10 had 80.
  • A cohort had 6 centuriae, which would be 504.
  • A legion had 10 Cohorts, meaning 5040 troops. 

Scholars talk about a legion having 6000 troops, and there are several reasons for this. There were officers for each unit, and as units get bigger staff positions are added to the numbers.

There were also non-infantry units, most notably calvary, that were smaller but not in this strict organization. This applied to me when I started organizing the Warriors.

There was also the idea that a legion had a ‘double first cohort’.


Here are the Roman ranks.

  • A legate led a legion.
  • A tribune led a cohort.
  • A centurion led a conturiae.
  • A decanus led a contubernia.

Above a legate was a praetor, who might lead a legion, as the term could refer a governing role and a military one. For instance, if you sent a legion and a half legion to England, you might have one commander and his rank would be prator and he’d be the colony governor and legion legate.

There are also Roman terms for a position that might differ from a rank. For instance, part of the legion staff was the legion security force, which were not only the legion cops, but the personal guard of the legate. The person who held that position had the title of Tesserarius but was probably just the leader of a contubernia, a decanus. An optima was second to a centurion and a stepping stone to that role.

Translating to Home

I have an obsession for organizing things into neat groups, but it quickly becomes difficult here. Even the Romans couldn’t keep it this simple, because they had calvary which needed a different unit size but equal rank. Take more modern military and you might have armor, aircraft, and special units.

That’s where the U.S. Marine Corps came in. In the US, we have three different military branches and they all have different unit types because they have very different unit needs. But there is one branch that does it all. The Marines have armor and infantry like the army, aircraft like the Air Force, and units like the Navy. But they organize them all under one set of ranks.

So I took a lot of organizational inspirations from the marines and pasted the unit names of the romans on top.

I already have a basic unit of life on Home called the Rainbow that has 6 women in it. But there is a group of women on Home who reject the idea of the colors and the rainbow. The Wild. The one place they coexist is the military, and this ends up working.

The contubernia a 8 person unit, a full rainbow and two Wild. There may also be ‘broken rainbows’, where a rainbow has lost members for whatever reason – casualties of war, retirement – and they too can be combined into contubernia.

The whole Warrior org chart isn’t worked out because I’m writing a book, and do things as I need them. I found the research fascinating and thought I’d give you a glimpse behind the scenes.

Photo by Heinz Schneider on Unsplash

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