Garlemald and Ancient Rome, Part 1

September 10, 2014

If you’ve played through the Main Scenario quests of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, you’ve surely noticed that all of the soldiers in the Garlean army have Latin-sounding titles. But have you ever wondered what those titles mean? Most of them are drawn from the military terminology of ancient Rome: some (Decurion, Optio) correspond to specific ranks, while others (e.g., Signifer) denote specialized types of units. Still others (such as Laquearius) refer not to the Roman army, but to gladiators and other combatants in the Roman arena. In the first two parts of this series, I offer a brief explanation of the meaning of these names, followed by a more detailed look at the relationship between Garlean troop types and their Roman models. Part 3 extends the discussion to names and titles of the Garlean elite, including Nero, Livia, Gaius, and Rhitahtyn.

Garlean Soldiers and Officers
Title Class(es) Latin Meaning
Bestarius LNC =bestiarius (fighter of beasts)
Centurion GLA commander of a hundred
Decurion GLA/MRD/PGL leader of ten
Eques LNC horseman
Funditor ARC slinger
Hoplomachus GLA armored (or shielded) fighter
Imaginifer THM image-bearer
Laquearius MRD snarer
Medicus CNJ physician or medic
Optio CNJ/GLA/MRD lieutenant or deputy
Primi Ordines GLA =primus ordo (first officer)
Sagittarius ARC archer
Secutor PGL follower or chaser (type of gladiator)
Signifer THM standard-bearer
Bestarius (LNC)

Found in the 3rd Cohort.

The bestarius (a corruption of Latin bestiarius) makes only a brief appearance in FFXIV:ARR, as one of the Garlean troops who assists Legless Laurentius in the quest “Nouveau Riche.” In ancient Rome, a bestiarius was most often a convict or prisoner who was thrown to the beasts in the arena; this grisly spectacle served as a sort of “warm-up” for a day of gladiatorial games. At least a few bestiarii, however, were professional fighters who specialized in slaying exotic animals. Mosaics from the late Western Empire show that this latter type of bestiarus, like the Lancer class, favored a spear for keeping lions and bears at a manageable distance. Moreover, the professionalbestiarii seem to have possessed something of the same reckless bravery as FFXIV’s Lancers and Dragoons, who measure their skills against man-eating wolves, giant boars, and other fearsome fauna.

Centurion (GLA)

Found in the 8th Cohort.

This is one of the few Roman titles still widely recognized in modern times. A centurion was typically a commander of a unit known as a century. The etymology of both words suggests a group of one hundred soldiers; in practice, however, the number varied from about eighty to more than a thousand.

Decurion (GLA, MRD, PGL)

Found in the 3rd and 5th Cohorts.

Within FFXIV, decurions (Lat.: decuriones) appear only in a handful of quests and — unusually among Garlean troop designations – seem to have a different character class each time they show up. Just as a centurion was theoretically the commander of a hundred men, the term decurion implies a group of ten. In the early days of the Roman Republic, decurions indeed commanded squadrons of ten men, but in the armies of the later Republic and its successor state the Empire, they instead led groups of thirty cavalrymen. Unlike the centurions (and the other ranks of officer represented here), decurions were seldom Roman citizens; as such, they had limited opportunities for career advancement.

Eques (LNC)

Found in all six of the imperial cohorts currently in-game.

The word eques literally means horseman and was used in both military and gladiatorial contexts. The equites of the arena were mounted combatants who faced off against one another at the beginning of a day’s games; like the Lancers of FFXIV, they were armed with a spear. In reference to the Roman army, the term eques is usually translated as knight and refers to a member of the equestrian order. Originally a group of mounted soldiers, the equestrians formed an aristocratic class within Roman society from the Republican era to the late years of the Empire.

Funditor (ARC)

Found in the 3rd Cohort.

The funditores (slingers) of the Roman army fought either with simple shepherd’s slings or with fustibali, sling-staves which offered improved range and accuracy. Like the sagittarius (archers) and later versions of the decurion, thefunditor was part of the auxilia: a group of specialized units, mostly non-citizens, who fought alongside the legions.

Hoplomachus (GLA)

Found in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 8th Cohorts.

The hoplomachus was a class of Roman gladiator equipped with a sword, a spear, and a small round shield.Hoplomachi derived their name and their costume from the hoplite, a type of armored soldier seen throughout Ancient Greece. In comparison to Greek hoplite, with his large shield and heavy armor, the Roman hoplomachuswas lightly clad, wearing high greaves and a subligar that resembled those seen on FFXIV Gladiators.

Imaginifer (THM)

Found in the 3rd Cohort.

This is another enemy type which only appears in the Main Scenario quest “Nouveau Riche.” The imaginifer was a high-ranking standard bearer (or signifer) entrusted with carrying the image of the reigning emperor. This image (Lat.: imago) was a kind of metal bust of the emperor mounted on a staff. Given the daddy complex that seems to afflict Nero tol Scaeva and Livia Sas Junius, it’s easy to imagine the Garleans treating the image of Gaius van Baelsar with a similar degree of superstitious reverence.

Click through to Part 2 for a look at the meanings and origins of other Garlean titles.


This post was last updated on 10 September 2014; the current version of FFXIV:ARR at that time was 2014.08.26.

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