Talk:Military tribune

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fact check[edit]

"Traditionally, a young man of senatorial rank would take a post as a military tribune at the age of twenty."

Not sure about this. He would go get his military experience, but the tribunes were expected to have experience already. I'll keep my eyes open for a source, but it's my impression that legati were appointed by the senate, and the tribunes (this is how they're connected to the political office of tribune of the plebs) are somehow 'elected' by the people; that is, legates and tribunes represent the traditional Roman division of power into "senate" and "people." (I think it's been speculated that originally they would have been nominated as officers by their "tribes.")

The rank of military tribune should be distinguished from those officers that Broughton's Magistrates of the Roman Republic lists as "Legates, lieutenants" (which confusingly includes legati, and officers whose rank is unknown, and officers who were essentially given field commissions by their commanding officers; see discussion of the rank of Publius Crassus under Caesar). For example, even in a year like 56 (Caesar's third in Gaul), the only known military tribune is Gaius Volusenus Quadratus, who was of equestrian social rank (not senatorial). I'm not sure what their scanty representation in the historical record means. In the Early Republic, however, military tribunes seem to have ranked quite high, just under the consul (in military matters).

If military tribunes were in fact young men of senatorial rank about to embark on a political career, they were using the office as a stepping stone and were not career officers as such. Ronald Syme notes that a Volusenus might have been unusual (or rather, traditional in the sense of going back to the old days of the Early Republic) in choosing the military as a 'career.'

Roman constitutional scholar Andrew Lintott connects the creation of the military tribunes to reforms having to do with the Struggle of the Orders, in part because it coincides with opening up the office of censor to a vote. See Lintott here, but he's not primarily concerned with military ranks, and the preview of his book is very limited.

There's another major shift in how the military tribune should be thought of under Augustus, of course; inaccuracies sometimes result from compiling facts from different historical periods. What's true of the tribune in the 4th century BC is not going to be true in the 1st century AD. So maybe after the intro the article should take a more period-by-period approach. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:28, 30 August 2009 (UTC)


This paragraph comes from the Tribune article:

Each year the Tribal Assembly elected 24 young men in their late twenties with senatorial ambitions to serve as Tribunes of the Soldiers (tribunes militium). These 24 were distributed six to each of the consuls' four legions as the legions' commanding officers.

Setting aside the absurdity of "senatorial ambitions", this is missing from the military tribune article. Glancing back over the article, I see that the distinction between legati and tribunes is exactly backwards. Legati were appointed by the senate, and were not necessarily chosen for their abilities as a soldier — they were often administrators. The article could benefit from some solid scholarly sources. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:38, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Fact check: Dates[edit]

I query the line "The office eventually fell out of use after 366 BC."

Since St. George who died in 303 AD was one: see — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:11, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Yes, this is unclear, but I don't have time to get my facts and sources straight to fix it properly. The article seems to be doing exactly what we're told not to do in the intro—that is, it confuses the tribunus militaris with the Tribuni militum consulari potestate. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:26, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Can we get anything on the late Empire?[edit]

In the late Empire, the tribunes still existed, though there seems to be some controversy over how many tribunes there were. Treadgold argues that the legions had two tribunes each, and the auxilia, pseudocomitatenses, and vexillationes had one each. Elton argues that the legions had one each, like the other units. (talk) 00:22, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Tribuni angusticlavii[edit]

I'm Italian, I'm sorry for my English, but I've read the section about tribuni angusticlavii and I think that Tacitus was writing about tribuni laticlavii, because Agricola was a 'broad-stripe' tribune. Other sources indeed describe 'thin stripe' tribunes as men with military experience and a lot of duties in the roman army, as the command in field of two cohortes. Am I right? Thank you.--Innocenti Erleor (talk) 16:29, 25 July 2013 (UTC)