Late Roman Army
Life In The Legion
Traditionally a century in the army is assumed to consist of ten tent parties of eight men, a contubernium, making a century of 80 men. However the only source for this assumption comes from an unknown author of De Munitionibus Castrorum, a work about the fortifications of military camps. This work was attributed to Hyginus Gromaticus, and it’s author is conventionally called "Pseudo-Hyginus". This work is probably from the early 3rd century, and modern writers have based their assumptions on this rather slender thread.
However the Roman writer Vegetius in his Epitome of Military Science clearly gives us ten men in a squad making a century of 100 men. However Vegetius is not always reliable and his claim is often over looked.
But in truth the reality is that a century much like a modern company could encompass something like 60 to 150 men depending on unit, location and circumstances. It is likely that the Praesidiensis was made up of a number of centuries of varying strengths. Our recruit would be placed in a squad of up to ten men of mixed experiance and capacity probably lead by a biarchus, decurion or according to Vegetius a decanus which means “set over ten” or “commander of ten”. The word biarchus literally means “in charge of the food supply”, or “mess-leader”, which probably gives us their function. Cooking, work and watch systems would probably all be based on the file.