The Roman Army A to Z: ala

ala (f. pl. alae)

Literally ‘a wing’; 1. in the Republican period, a flanking cavalry force in the battle line, usually composed of socii (Caes., BG 1.51; Cic., Off. 2.45); 2. more generally, the flanks (or wings) of a battle line or battlefield formation (Aul. Gell. 10.9.1; Livy 31.21.7); 3. in the Principate (and later), an auxiliary cavalry unit, either normal- (quingenaria) or double-strength (milliaria), the former being commanded by a praefectus alae or equitum and the latter a tribunus alae or equitum (DMC 16; Tac., Hist. 1.59; RIB 159; CIL XVI, 69). [Cowan 2007]

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