In the Roman army during classical antiquity, a centurion [kɛn̪ˈt̪ʊrioː], pl. centuriones; Greek: κεντυρίων, translit. kentyríōn, or Greek: ἑκατόνταρχος, translit. hekatóntarkhos), was a commander, nominally of a century (Latin: centuria), a military unit originally consisting of 100 legionaries. The size of the century changed over time, and from the first century BC through most of the imperial era was reduced to 80 men.
Centurions were promoted for being an exemplary soldier, expected to then become a strict commander of his subordinates, to be in the front leading their troops by example and helping the Century's coordination. In a Roman legion, centuries were grouped into cohorts and commanded by their senior-most centurion. The prestigious first cohort was led by the primus pilus, analogous to a junior officer, the most senior centurion in the legion who fulfilled the analogous role of staff officer and senior enlisted advisor and its fourth-in-command who was next in line for promotion to praefectus castrorum, and the primi ordines who were the centurions of the first cohort. They were also responsible for handling logistics and supplies, as well as any discipline that was required.
A centurion's symbol of office was the vine staff, with which they disciplined even Roman citizens, who were otherwise legally protected from corporal punishment by the Porcian Laws. Centurions also served in the Roman navy. They were professional officers, analogous to modern NCOs in terms of pay-grade, prestige, and responsibilities. In Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the Byzantine army's centurions were also known by the name kentarch (Kentarches).

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