Biblical Greek for Roman army "cohort" & its leader


Senior Member
American English
I heard someone speaking English (with I think a Swedish accent) about an event described in the Bible, and she talked about what a couple of Greek words meant, so I can't be sure of the spellings of those words. The one that she said meant "cohort", a unit of the Roman army with 1000 men, sounded like something close to "spera", and the one that she said meant "the man in command of a cohort" sounded like something close to "chriatkos" or "chiliatkos". Online translation hasn't helped. (I presume they're tuned to modern Greek and the same words aren't used anymore.)

Also, her point was that these words normally get mistakenly translated as something that sounds much smaller than 1000 men, like "the captain and the guard", so the words I'm really looking for might actually mean that instead, if those other people have always had it right and she's the one who's wrong.
  • Hi, it's «σπεῖρα» & «χιλίαρχος».
    Σπεῖρα /ˈspei̯ra/ (fem.) used to translate the Roman manipulus, later, cohort.
    Χιλίαρχος /kʰiˈliarkʰos/ (masc.) literally means 'leader-of-one thousand' used to translate the Roman tribunus militum.


    Senior Member
    It is in John 18. Χιλίαρχος did not necessarilly commanded 1000 men, but they could be less or more.
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