Roman Legion Banners
Because legions were not permanent units until the Marian reforms (c. 107 BC), and were instead created, used, and disbanded again, several hundred legions were named and numbered throughout Roman history. To date, about 50 have been identified. The republican legions were composed of levied men that paid for their own equipment and thus the structure of the Roman army at this time reflected the society, and at any time there would be four consular legions (with command divided between the two ruling consuls) and in time of war extra legions could be levied. Toward the end of the 2nd century BC, Rome started to experience manpower shortages brought about by property and financial qualifications to join the army. This prompted consul Gaius Marius to remove property qualifications and decree that all citizens, regardless of their wealth or social class, were made eligible for service in the Roman army with equipment and rewards for fulfilling years of service provided by the state. The Roman army became a volunteer, professional and standing army which extended service beyond Roman citizens but also to non-citizens that could sign on as auxillia (auxiliaries) and were rewarded Roman citizenship upon completion of service and all the rights and privileges that entailed. In the time of Augustus, there were nearly 50 upon his succession but this was reduced to about 25–35 permanent standing legions and this remained the figure for most of the empire's history.
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Mounted above the phalerae grouping, was a rod or a plate bearing the units title from which were suspended two strips of leather similar to the apron straps of a legionary's cingulum or military belt; and sometimes a representation of a wreath probably denoting an honor or award. The wreath sometimes surrounded the Manus or spear head surmounting the standard pole.
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The ancient Romans loved pomp and spectacle. The Roman legion provided that. Each legion had its own special banner, its own name, and its own number. Within the legion, centuries (groups of 100 men) also had a banner. The legion also had trumpet players, drummers and other noisemakers, so a Roman legion on the march was certainly spectacular.