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1. (in ancient Rome) a unit of foot soldiers, originally 100 strong, later consisting of 60 to 80 men
2. (in ancient Rome) a division of the people for purposes of voting
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient Rome, a military and political division of the citizenry. According to classical tradition, the Roman cavalry was divided into centuries in the regal period (eighth-sixth centuries B.C.). The reform by which the century became a general military and electoral unit is attributed to King Servius Tullius (sixth century B.C.). It divided all citizens into five property classifications; each classification supplied a fixed number of centuries and received a corresponding number of votes in the comitia centuriata (Centuriate Assembly). The initial total of 193 centuries was increased to 373 between the First and Second Punic wars. The century retained its importance as a military subdivision under the empire, when it was part of a cohort in a legion.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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