- List of Roman legions
This is a list of
Roman legions, including key facts about each legion, primarily focusing on Principate(early Empire, 30BC - 284AD) legions, for which there exists substantial literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence.
Until the first century BC, Republican legions were temporary citizen levies, raised for specific campaigns and disbandedafter them. By the early first century BC, legions were mixed volunteer/conscript units. Legions became standing units, which could remain intact long after a particular campaign was finished. Large numbers of new legions were raised by rival warlords for the civil wars of the period 49-30 BC.
Augustusbecame sole ruler in 30 BC, he disbanded about half the over 50 legions then in existence. The remaining 28 legions became the core of the early Imperial army, most lasting over three centuries. Augustus and his immediate successors transformed legions into permanent units, staffed by entirely career soldiers on standard 25-year terms. Dominate(late Empire, 284 - 476) legions were also professional, but are little understood due to scarcer evidence than for the Principate. What is clear is that late legions were radically different in size, structure and tactical role from their predecessors, despite several retaining early period names. This was the result of the military reforms of Emperors Diocletianand Constantine I, and of further developments during the fourth century.
Late Republican legions
Marian reformsof 107 BC, the Republican legions were formed by compulsory levy of Roman citizens (who met a minimum property qualification) and raised whenever it was necessary. Usually they were authorised by the Roman Senate, and were later disbanded. Gaius Marius' reforms transformed legions into standing units, which could remain in being for several years, or even decades. This became necessary to garrison the Republic's now far-flung territories. Legionaries started large-scale recruiting of volunteer soldiers enlisted for a minimum term of six years and a fixed salary, although conscription was still practised. The property requirements, already much reduced, seem to have been abolished by Marius, so that the bulk of recruits were henceforth from the landless proletariat, who would be most attracted to the paid employment offered by the legions.
In the last century of the Republic,
proconsulsgoverning frontier provinces became increasingly powerful. Their command of standing legions in distant and arduous military campaigns resulted in the allegiance of those units transferring from the Roman state to themselves. These "imperatores" (lit: victorious generals, from the title imperatorthey were hailed with by their troops) frequently fell out with each other and started civil wars to seize control of the state. e.g. Sulla, Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Mark Antonyand Octavian(later Augustus, the first Emperor himself. In this context, the "imperatores" raised many legions that were not authorised by the Senate, sometimes having to use their own resources (generally extorted from the provinces they controlled). As civil wars were resolved, many of these "private" units would be disbanded, only for more to be raised to fight the next civil war. By the time Augustus emerged as sole ruler in 30BC, over 50 legions were in existence, many of which were disbanded.
The legions included in the following list had a long enough history to be somehow remarkable. Most of them were levied by Julius Caesar and later included into Octavian's army, some of them were levied by Mark Antony.
* Legio I "Germanica" ("Germanic"):
48 BC– 70( Batavian rebellion), Julius Caesar
* Legio II "Sabina" ("Sabine"):
43 BCto circa 9 AD, early name of the Legio II "Augusta"
* Legio III "Cyrenaica" ("from Cyrenaica"): probably around
36 BCto (at least) 5th century, Mark Antony
* Legio III "Gallica" ("from Gallia"): around
49 BCto at least early 4th century, Julius Caesar(emblem: bull)
* Legio IV "Macedonica" ("Macedonian"):
48 BC– 70(disbanded by Vespasian), Julius Caesar(emblem: bull, capricorn)
* Legio IV "Scythica" ("from Scythia"): around
42 BCto at least early 5th century, Mark Antony(emblem: capricorn)
* Legio V "Alaudae" ("Larks"):
52 BC– 70(destroyed in the Batavian rebellion), Julius Caesar(emblem: elephant)
* Legio VI "Ferrata" ("Ironclad"):
52 BCto after 250, Julius Caesar(emblem: bull, wolfand Romulusand Remus); twin legion of Legio VI Victrix
Legio VII Claudia: 51– 44 BC, Julius Caesar; disbanded and re-formed by Galbaas Legio VII Gemina
* Legio VIII: 59–
48 BC, Julius Caesar, disbanded and re-enlisted by Augustus as Legio VIII "Augusta"
* Legio IX "Triumphalis" ("Triumphant"): 59–
48 BC, Julius Caesar, disbanded and re-enlisted by Augustus as Legio IX "Hispana"
* Legio X, also known as X "Equestris" ("mounted"): before 58–
45 BC, Julius Caesar, disbanded, reconstituted by Lepidus, incorporated into the Legio X "Gemina" by Augustus.
** Legio X "Veneria" (devoted to the goddess "Venus"): another name of X "Equestris".
* Legio XI: 58–
45 BC, Julius Caesar(emblem: Neptune), disbanded, reconstituted by Augustus as Legio XI "Claudia"
* Legio XII "Victrix" ("Victorious"):
57 BC– 45, Julius Caesar
**Legio XII "Antiqua" ("Ancient"): reconstituted by Lepidus in
43 BC, named by Mark Antony, included in Augustus army as Legio XII "Fulminata"
* Legio XIII: 57–
45 BC: Julius Caesar, later ( 41 BC) reconstituted as Legio XIII "Gemina" by Augustus
* Legio XVIII "Libyca" ("from Libya"): disbanded
31 BC, Mark Antony
* Legio XXX "Classica" ("Naval"): 48–
41 BC, Julius Caesar
Early Empire legions
CODES FOR ROMAN PROVINCES IN TABLE:
* AFR Africa ("Tunisia/Tripolitania")
* AQ Aquitania ("Aquitaine, France")
* BRIT Britannia ("England/Wales")
* DLM Dalmatia ("Croatia/Bosnia")
Galatia("Ankara province Turkey")
Germania Inferior("S Netherlands/NW Rhineland")
Germania Superior("Alsace-Lorraine/S Rhineland")
Hispania Tarraconensis("most of Spain")
* IT Italia ("Italy")
* JUD Judaea ("Israel/Palestine")
* MCD Macedonia ("Macedonia, Albania")
* MI Moesia Inferior ("N Bulgaria/coastal Romania")
* MS Moesia Superior ("Serbia")
Raetia("Switzerland/Ger S of Danube")
* SYR Syria ("Syria/Lebanon")
* Legion number & title
The numbering of the legions is confusing. Several legions shared the same number with others. Augustus numbered the legions he founded himself from I, but also inherited numbers from his predecessors. Each emperor normally numbered the legions he raised himself starting from I . However, even this practice was not consistently followed. For example,
Vespasiankept the same numbers as before for legions he raised from disbanded units. Trajan's first legion was numbered XXX because there were 29 other legions in existence at the time it was raised; but the second Trajanic legion was given the sequential number II. XVII, XVIII and XIX, the numbers of the legions annihilated in the Teutoberg Forest, were never used again. As a result of this somewhat chaotic evolution, the legion's title became necessary to distinguish between legions with the same number. Legions often carried several titles, awarded after successive campaigns, normally by the ruling Emperor e.g. XII Fulminata was also awarded: "paterna" (fatherly), "victrix" (victorious), "antiqua" (venerable), "certa constans" (reliable, steadfast) and "Galliena" ( Gallienus'). "Pia fidelis" (dutiful, loyal), "fidelis constans" and others were titles awarded to several legions, sometimes several times to the same legion. Only the most established, commonly used titles are displayed on this table.
The geographical titles indicate
(a) the country a legion was originally recruited e.g. "Italica" = from Italy or
(b) peoples the legion has vanquished e.g."Parthica" = victorious over the
Legions bearing the personal name of an emperor, or of his "gens" (clan) (e.g. "Augusta", "Flavia") were either founded by that Emperor or awarded the name as a mark of special favour.
The title GEMINA probably means the legion is twinned with another, or has been split from another to form a new legion. Alternatively, it may mean the legion is dedicated to the "Gemini" (Twins)
Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome
* Main legionary base
This shows the "castra" (base) where the legion spent the longest period during the Principate. Legions often shared the same base with other legions. Detachments of legions were often seconded for lengthy periods to other bases and provinces, as operational needs demanded.
Legions often sported more than one emblem at the same time, and occasionally changed them. Legions raised by Caesar mostly carried a bull emblem originally; those of Augustus mostly a Capricorn
* Date disbanded
For legions that are documented into the fourth century and beyond, we do not know when or how they were terminated. For legions disappearing from the record before 284, the reason (certain or likely) is given as:
XX = annihilated in battle
DD = disbanded in disgrace
UF = unknown fate
* Castra legionaria
Indicates the bases ("castra") and/or provinces where the legion was based during its history, with dates.
* NotesContains points of note, including explanation of titles and details of a legion's fate.
Province names and borders are assumed throughout the Principate period as at 107 AD , during the rule of
Trajan, and after the annexation of Daciaand Arabia Petraea. The map above shows provinces at the end of Trajan's reign, 117 AD. They are the same as in 107, except that Armenia and Mesopotamia have been annexed (they were abandoned soon after Trajan's death); and Pannoniahas been split into two (the split occurred c107). In reality provincial borders were modified several times during the period 30 BC-284 AD: this explains any discrepancy with other sources, as to a legion's location at a particular date
Late Empire Legions
Diocletianreorganized the Roman army, in order to better handle the menace of the barbarians from north Europe as well as that of the Persians from the East. The army was formed by "border" and "field" units.
The "border" ("
limitanei") units were to occupy the limes, the structured border fortifications, and were formed by professional soldiers with an inferior training.
The "field" units were to stay well behind the border, and to move quickly where they were needed, with both offensive and defensive roles. Field units were formed by elite soldiers with high-level training and weapons. They were further divided into:
# "Scholae" units: the personal guard of the Emperor, created to replace the
Praetorian Guarddisbanded by Constantine I;
Palatinae" units: "palace" units were the highest ranked units;
# "Comitatenses" units: "line" or "regular" units, some were newly formed, others were descended from Early-Empire legions;
# "Pseudocomitatenses" units: these were "limitanei" units diverted into the field army and often kept there; some Early Empire legions became "pseudocomitatenses" units.
Some of these units kept a numbering scheme, the primary source for which is the "
* Legio I
** I "Armeniaca" ("from Armenia"): "pseudocomitatensis" under "
Magister militumper Orientis" command, fought under Julian the Apostateagainst the Persians
** I "Flavia Constantia" ("reliable Flavian"): "comitatensis" unit under "
Magister militumper Orientis" command
** I "Flavia Gallicana Constantia" ("reliable Flavian legion from Gallia"): "pseudocomitatensis" under "Magister Peditum per Gallias" command
** I "Flavia Martis" ("Flavian legion devoted to Mars"): "pseudocomitatensis"
** I "Flavia Pacis" ("Flavian legion of peace"): "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum"
** I "Flavia Theodosiana": "comitatensis"
** I "Illyricorum" ("of the Illyrians"): stationed at
** I "Iovia" ("devoted to Jupiter"): levied by Diocletian, stationed in
** I "Isaura Sagittaria" ("archers from Isauria"): "pseudocomitatensis" under "
Magister militumper Orientis" command
** I "Iulia Alpina": "pseudocomitatensis" under "Magister Peditum" command in Italia
** I "Martia"
** I "Maximiana Thaebanorum" ("the Thebans of Maximianus"): "comitatensis" unit stationed near
Thebes, Egypt, and probably fighting in the battle of Adrianople
** I "Noricorum" ("of the Noricans"): stationed in
** I "Pontica"
* Legio II
** II "Armeniaca": "pseudocomitatensis"
** II "Britannica": "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum"
** II "Flavia Constantia": "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum"
** II "Flavia Virtutis": "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum"
** II "Herculia" ("devoted to Hercules"): levied by Diocletian, stationed in Scythia Minor
** II "Isaura"
** II "Iulia Alpina": "pseudocomitatensis" under "Magister Peditum", in "Comes Illyricum" command
** II "Felix Valentis Thebaeorum": "comitatensis"
* Legio III
** III "Diocletiana"
** III "Flavia Salutis": "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum"
** III "Herculea": "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum", in "Comes Illyricum" command
** III "Isaura"
** III "Iulia Alpina": "comitatensis" under "Magister Peditum" command in Italia
* Legio IV
** IV "Italica"
** IV "Martia"
** IV "Parthica"
* Legio V
** V "Iovia" (maybe the "
** V "Parthica"
* Legio VI
** VI "Gemella"
** VI "Gallicana"
** VI "Herculia" (maybe the
** VI "Hispana"
** VI "Parthica"
* Legio XII
** XII "Victrix"
Notitia Dignitatum" reports the military units and their locations at the beginning of the 5th century.
Oxford Classical Dictionary"
* Keppie, Lawrence. "The Making of the Roman Army", 1984
List of Roman auxiliary regiments
Structural history of the Roman military
* [http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/legions.htm Livius.org: List of Roman legions]
* [http://www.davros.org/romans/legions.html A catalogue of Roman legions]
* [http://web.utk.edu/~cohprima/ Lego V Living History Group in Tennessee]
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