Transf., the heavy javelin of the Roman infantry, which they hurled at the enemy at the commencement of the action, and then took to their swords: (caput) adfixum gestari jussit in pilo, Cic. Phil. 11, 2, 5: pilum, haud paulo quam hasta, vehementius ictu missuque telum, Liv. 9, 19; cf. Veg. Mil. 2, 15: milites e loco superiore pilis missis facile hostium phalangem perfregerunt, Caes. B. G. 1, 25: pilorum hastarumque honore circumdatus, Plin. Pan. 56, 5: in imperatorem suum legiones pila torserunt, Sen. Ira, 3, 2, 4; cf. Tac. A. 15, 7: pilum praepilatum, having a blunt or rounded end, Auct. B. Afr. 72. They were also used in sieges, being hurled at the enemy from the walls; these were called pila muralia, Caes. B. G. 5, 40; Tac. A. 4, 51.—Prov.: pilum inicere alicui, to make an attack on one, Plaut. Most. 3, 1, 43.
Vis certe pila, i. e. to be primipilus of the triarii or veterans who carried two javelins each, Juv. 10, 94; v. Dict. of Antiq. p. 104.