The Roman Army A to Z: veles

veles (m. pl. velites)

A light infantryman and skirmisher belonging to the Middle Republican legio. Velites were equipped with a helmet, sword, javelins, and parma and were attached to all of the manipuli of hastati, principes, and triarii. They began a battle by forming in front of the heavier infantry, but once their skirmishing duties were no longer required, they would retreat through the hastati who would then close ranks behind them. Liv. 26 4.4; Polyb. 6.22. [Keppie 1984]