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Optio
1st century AD

The optio was the second in command of a century.
Unlike the centurionís, the optioís equipment and armour differed little from that of the ordinary soldier.
The main indicator of his rank, was the optioís staff. Itís generally believed that the main use of this staff was to help in arraying men in ranks and columns.
The reach the pommelled staff granted him, would also allow the optio to get the attention of individual men in the ranks during battle.
Further to this, the optio is said to have worn a special ring, denoting his rank.

This fine example of an optio wears a crest which would only have been used on special parades. He wears a red cape, usually the denotation of a centurion. But given the optioís position as second-in-command, this may indeed have been possible.

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This page was last updated on 3rd August 2007.