List of Roman legions

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.

However, when Augustus became 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 Diocletian and Constantine I, and of further developments during the fourth century.

Late Republican legions

Until the Marian reforms of 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, proconsuls governing 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 imperator they 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 Antony and 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 BC70 (Batavian rebellion), Julius Caesar
* Legio II "Sabina" ("Sabine"): 43 BC to circa 9 AD, early name of the Legio II "Augusta"
* Legio III "Cyrenaica" ("from Cyrenaica"): probably around 36 BC to (at least) 5th century, Mark Antony
* Legio III "Gallica" ("from Gallia"): around 49 BC to at least early 4th century, Julius Caesar (emblem: bull)
* Legio IV "Macedonica" ("Macedonian"): 48 BC70 (disbanded by Vespasian), Julius Caesar (emblem: bull, capricorn)
* Legio IV "Scythica" ("from Scythia"): around 42 BC to at least early 5th century, Mark Antony (emblem: capricorn)
* Legio V "Alaudae" ("Larks"): 52 BC70 (destroyed in the Batavian rebellion), Julius Caesar (emblem: elephant)
* Legio VI "Ferrata" ("Ironclad"): 52 BC to after 250, Julius Caesar (emblem: bull, wolf and Romulus and Remus); twin legion of Legio VI Victrix
* Legio VII Claudia: 5144 BC, Julius Caesar; disbanded and re-formed by Galba as Legio VII Gemina
* Legio VIII: 5948 BC, Julius Caesar, disbanded and re-enlisted by Augustus as Legio VIII "Augusta"
* Legio IX "Triumphalis" ("Triumphant"): 5948 BC, Julius Caesar, disbanded and re-enlisted by Augustus as Legio IX "Hispana"
* Legio X, also known as X "Equestris" ("mounted"): before 5845 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: 5845 BC, Julius Caesar (emblem: Neptune), disbanded, reconstituted by Augustus as Legio XI "Claudia"
* Legio XII "Victrix" ("Victorious"): 57 BC45, 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: 5745 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"): 4841 BC, Julius Caesar

Early Empire legions


* AEG Aegyptus ("Egypt")
* AFR Africa ("Tunisia/Tripolitania")
* AQ Aquitania ("Aquitaine, France")
* AR Arabia Petraea ("Jordan/Sinai")
* BRIT Britannia ("England/Wales")
* CAP Cappadocia ("Central/Eastern Turkey")
* DC Dacia ("Romania")
* DLM Dalmatia ("Croatia/Bosnia")
* GAL Galatia ("Ankara province Turkey")
* GI Germania Inferior ("S Netherlands/NW Rhineland")
* GS Germania Superior ("Alsace-Lorraine/S Rhineland")
* HISP Hispania Tarraconensis ("most of Spain")
* IT Italia ("Italy")
* JUD Judaea ("Israel/Palestine")
* MAUR Mauretania ("Algeria/Morocco")
* MCD Macedonia ("Macedonia, Albania")
* MI Moesia Inferior ("N Bulgaria/coastal Romania")
* MS Moesia Superior ("Serbia")
* NR Noricum ("Austria")
* PAN Pannonia ("W Hungary/Slovenia")
* RT 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, Vespasian kept 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 Parthians
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.

* Emblem
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 Dacia and 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 Pannonia has 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

Diocletian reorganized 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 Guard disbanded 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 "Notitia Dignitatum"

* Legio I
** I "Armeniaca" ("from Armenia"): "pseudocomitatensis" under "Magister militum per Orientis" command, fought under Julian the Apostate against the Persians
** I "Flavia Constantia" ("reliable Flavian"): "comitatensis" unit under "Magister militum per 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 Palmyra
** I "Iovia" ("devoted to Jupiter"): levied by Diocletian, stationed in Scythia Minor
** I "Isaura Sagittaria" ("archers from Isauria"): "pseudocomitatensis" under "Magister militum per 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 Noricum
** 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 "Jovians")
** V "Parthica"

* Legio VI
** VI "Gemella"
** VI "Gallicana"
** VI "Herculia" (maybe the Herculians)
** VI "Hispana"
** VI "Parthica"

* Legio XII
** XII "Victrix"


Primary sources

* "Notitia Dignitatum" reports the military units and their locations at the beginning of the 5th century.

econdary sources

* "Oxford Classical Dictionary"
* Keppie, Lawrence. "The Making of the Roman Army", 1984


ee also

*List of Roman auxiliary regiments
*Roman army
*Roman auxiliaries
*Roman legion
*Structural history of the Roman military

External links

* [ List of Roman legions]
* [ A catalogue of Roman legions]
* [ Lego V Living History Group in Tennessee]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • List of Roman auxiliary regiments — This article contains listings of Roman auxiliary regiments attested in the epigraphic record, by province of deployment. For the history, organisation and equipment of these regiments, see Roman auxiliaries.The article is divided into three… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Roman battles — The following is a list of Roman Battles fought by the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, and sometimes the Byzantine Empire, organized by date. The list is not exhaustive. For the complete list see List of battles, for other… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Roman laws — This is a partial list of Roman laws. The name of the law is usually the gens of the legislator, declined on the feminine form (because in Latin law lex, plural leges is a word with feminine gender). When a law is the initiative of the two… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Roman army unit types — This is a list of both unit types and ranks of the Roman army from the Roman Republic to the fall of the Roman Empire. The distinction between rank and unit type doesn t seem to have been as precise as in a modern day army, in which a soldier has …   Wikipedia

  • Roman legion — For other uses, see legion The Roman Legion (from Latin legio military levy, conscription, from legere to choose ) is a term that can apply both as a transliteration of legio ( conscription or army ) to the entire Roman army and also, more… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman army — The Roman army was a set of military forces employed by the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and later Roman Empire as part of the Roman military. For its main infantry constituent and for much of its history, see Roman legion; for a catalogue of… …   Wikipedia

  • List of topics related to ancient Rome — This is a list of topics related to ancient Rome that aims to include aspects of both the ancient Roman Republic and Roman Empire.*For an overview of the subject, see Ancient Rome.*For other articles not listed below, see and its… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman infantry tactics — refers to the theoretical and historical deployment, formation and maneuvers of the Roman infantry from the start of the Roman Republic to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The article first presents a short overview of Roman training. Roman… …   Wikipedia

  • List of battles before 601 — List of battles: before 601 601 1400 1401 1800 1801 1900 1901 2000 2001 current See also: List of Roman battles Before 500 BC5th century BC4th century BC*398 BC Siege of Motya Phoenician city Motya sacked. *397 BC Battle of Messene Ionian Greek… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman technology — is the engineering practice which supported Roman civilization and made the expansion of Roman commerce and Roman military possible over nearly a thousand years. The Roman Empire had the most advanced set of technology of their time, some of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.