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This is a list of Roman legions, including key facts about each legion, primarily focusing on the Principate (early Empire, 27 BC – 284 AD) legions, for which there exists substantial literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence.
When Augustus became sole ruler in 31 BC, he disbanded about half of the over 50 legions then in existence. The remaining 28 legions became the core of the early Imperial army of the Principate (27 BC – AD 284), 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.
During the Dominate period (near the end of the Empire, 284–476), legions were also professional, but are little understood due to scarcity of evidence compared to 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 4th century.
The legions were identified by Roman numerals, though the spelling sometimes differed from the modern standard. For example, in addition to the spellings "IV", "IX", "XIV", "XVIII" and "XIX", the respective spellings "IIII", "VIIII", "XIIII", "XIIX" and "XVIIII" were commonly used. Legions also bore a cognomen or nickname. While neither a legion's number or cognomen were likely unique enough to identify it, the combination of the two is usually needed to identify a specific legion. For example, both Legio III Cyrenaica and Legio III Gallica were distinct, long-standing legions of the late Republic and Imperial periods. To visually identify legions, they also bore a specific emblem, a symbolic representation of the legion, frequently an animal or mythological figure, which appeared on the vexillum, a small rectangular flag that served as the legion's standard and carried both the emblem and name of the legion.
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 authorized 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 practiced. The property requirements were abolished by Marius, so that the bulk of recruits were henceforth from the landless citizens, who would be most attracted to the paid employment and land offered after their service.
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, such as 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. 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 of Rome in 31 BC, 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 Marc Antony.
Codes for Roman provinces in the table:
|HISP||Hispania Tarraconensis||(Central Spain)|
and title (cognomen)
|Castra legionaria (legion bases)
* = main base. Start date 31 BC if unspecified
|I Adiutrix||Szőny, Hungary||Capricorn||68 Nero||444||70–86 Moguntiacum (GS); 86 – mid-5th century Brigetio* (PAN)||"1st Rescuer". Was raised from marines of Classis Misenensis|
|I Germanica||Bonn, Germany||Bull||48 BC Caesar||70 DD||to 16 BC HISP; c. 5 BC – AD 70 Bonna* (GI)||Disbanded for cowardice in Batavi revolt|
|I Italica||Svishtov, Bulgaria||Boar||66 Nero||post 400||70 – early 5th century Novae* (MI)||prima Italica:raised for aborted Caucasus war|
|I Macriana||68 Macer||69 DD||(Raised for mutiny against Nero by Macer, gov of AFR)||liberatrix: "Liberator 1st". Disbanded by Galba|
|I Minervia||Bonn, Germany||Minerva||82 Domitian||post 300||82 – 4th century Bonna* (GI)||"Minerva-revering 1st"|
|I Parthica||Sinjar, Iraq||Centaur||197 S. Severus||post 400||197 – early 5th century Nisibis* (SYR)||Raised for Severus' Parthian campaign in 197|
|II Adiutrix||Budapest, Hungary||Capricorn||70 Vespasian||after 269||70–87 BRIT; 87–106 MS; 106 – at least 269 Aquincum* (PAN)||"2nd Rescuer." Was raised from marines of Classis Ravennatis|
|II Augusta||Caerleon, Wales||Capricorn||before 9 BC Augustus||after 300||to c. AD 9 HISP; 43–74 BRIT; 74 – at least 255 Isca Augusta* (BRIT)||Failed to engage Boudica 60. c. 395 at Rutupiae (BRIT)|
|II Italica||Enns, Austria||She-Wolf||165 M Aurelius||after 400||180 – c. 400 Lauriacum* (NR)||Capitoline Wolf Rome's national emblem|
|II Parthica||Castra Albana, Italy||Centaur||197 S. Severus||after 350||197–218 Castra Albana (IT); 218–234 Apamea (SYR); 238 – c. 300 Castra Albana(IT)||4th century recorded at Bezabde (SYR)|
|II Traiana||Alexandria, Egypt||Hercules||105 Trajan||after 400||125 – 5th century Nicopolis* (AEG)||secunda fortis "Trajan's valliant 2nd"|
|III Augusta||Batna, Algeria||Pegasus||43 BC Augustus||after 350||to 20 AFR; 20–75 Ammaedara; 74 – after 350+ Lambaesis* (MAUR)||Decimated for cowardice in Mauri war (AD 18)|
|III Cyrenaica||Busra, Syria||36 BC M Antony||after 400||to 35 Thebes 35–125 Alexandria AEG; 125 – 5th century Bostra* AR||"3rd from Cyrene"|
|III Gallica||Raphanea, Syria||Two Bulls||49 BC Caesar||after 300||31 BC– 4th century Raphanea* (SYR)||tertia Gallica: "3rd from Gaul"|
|III Italica||Regensburg, Germany||Stork||165 M Aurelius||after 300||165 – 4th century Castra Regina* (RT)||Raised for war on Marcomanni|
|III Parthica||Ras al-Ayn, Syria||Bull||197 S. Severus||after 400||197 – 4th century Resaena* (SYR)||Raised for Severus' Parthian campaign in 197|
|IV Flavia Felix||Belgrade, Serbia||Lion||70 Vespasian||before 400||86 – 4th century Singidunum* (MS)||Vespasian's lucky 4th. Reformed IV Macedon|
|IV Macedonica||Mainz, Germany||Bull||48 BC Caesar||70 DD||to 43 HISP; 43–70 Moguntiacum* (GS)||Disbanded in Batavi revolt|
|IV Scythica||Gaziantep, Turkey||Capricorn||42 BC M Antony||after 400||to 58 MS; 68 – 5th century Zeugma* (SYR)||quarta scythica: "Scythian-conquering 4th"|
|V Alaudae||Xanten, Germany||Elephant||52 BC Caesar||70 or 86 XX||to 19 BC HISP; c. 10 BC – AD 70 Castra Vetera* (GI)||"Larks 5th" Feathers in helmet? XX during Batavian rebellion in 70 or at the first Battle of Tapae in 86|
|V Macedonica||Turda, Romania||Eagle||43 BC Augustus||after 600||6–101 Oescus, 107–161 Troesmis (MI); 166–274 Potaissa* (DC)||quinta macedonica: "5th from Macedonia"|
|VI Ferrata||Galilee, Israel||She-Wolf||58 BC Caesar||at least 250 UF||to 71 Raphana (SYR); 135 – at least 250 Caparcotna* (JUD)||"Ironclad 6th". XX at Battle of Edessa 260?|
|VI Hispana||post 212||after 250 UF||unknown||Only 1 record. XX at Battle of Abrittus 251?|
|VI Victrix||York, England||Bull||41 BC Augustus||after 400||to 70 Castra Legionis HISP; 71–122 GI; 122 – c. 400 Eburacum* BRIT||"Victorious 6th" built Hadrian's Wall 122–132|
|VII Claudia||Kostolac, Serbia||Bull||58 BC Caesar||c. 400||to AD 9 GAL; 9–58 DLM; 58 – c. 400 Viminacium* (MS)||septima Claudia: title for crushing mutiny 42|
|VII Gemina||León, Spain||68 Galba||c. 400||75 – c. 400 Castra Legionis* HISP||Raised in Hispania by Galba for march on Rome|
|VIII Augusta||Strasbourg, France||Bull||59 BC Caesar||after 371||9-45 Poetovium; 45–69 Novae MI; 69–86 Mirebeau-sur-Bèze GS; 86 – at least 371 Argentorate* GS||octava Augusta:|
|IX Hispana||York, England||Bull||41 BC Augustus||132? 161?||to 13 BC HISP; AD 9–43 PAN?; 71–121 Eburacum* BRIT; 121–130 Nijmegen GI?||nona Hispana: XX in Judaea (132)? XX by Parthians in Armenia (161)|
|X Fretensis||Jerusalem||Boar||40 BC Augustus||after 400||to 25 BC JUD; 25 BC – AD 66 SYR; 73 – at least c. 400 Hierosolyma*||fretum = Strait of Messina, Naulochus 36 BC|
|X Gemina||Vienna, Austria||Bull||42 BC Lepidus||after 400||30 BC – AD 63 Petavonium HISP; 63–68 Carnuntum PAN; Petavonium 68–71 HISP; 71–103 Noviomagus GI; 103 – c. 400 Vindobona* PAN||Was X Equestris, Caesar's "mounted" legion|
|XI Claudia||Silistra, Bulgaria||Neptune||42 BC Augustus||after 400||to 71 DLM; 71–104 Vindonissa RT; 104 – c. 400 Durostorum* MI||undecima Claudia: honoured by Claudius|
|XII Fulminata||Malatya, Turkey||Thunderbolt||43 BC Lepidus||after 400||to 14 AEG; 14–71 Raphana (SYR); 71 – c. 400 Melitene* (CAP)||Thunderbolt 12th lost aquila in 1st Jewish War|
|XIII Gemina||Alba Iulia, Romania||Lion||57 BC Caesar||after 400||45–106 Poetovio PAN; 106–270 Apulum* DC; 270–400 MI||"Twinned 13th". Crossed Rubicon with Caesar 49 BC|
|XIV Gemina||Petronell, Austria||Capricorn||57 BC Caesar||after 400||AD 9–43 Moguntiacum GS; 43–58 Mancetter BRIT; 58–67 Wroxeter BRIT; 67–89 Balkans; 92–106 Vindobona PAN; 106 – c. 400 Carnuntum*||Defeated Boudica's Britons at Watling Street (60)|
|XV Apollinaris||Saddagh, Turkey||Apollo||41 BC Augustus||after 400||14–62 Carnuntum PAN; 62–73 SYR 71–115 Carnuntum PAN; 115 – c. 400 Satala* CAP||"Apollo-revering 15th". Fought in First Jewish War|
|XV Primigenia||Xanten, Germany||Fortuna||39 Caligula||70 XX||39–43 Moguntiacum (GS); 43–70 Castra Vetera* (GI)||Primigenia goddess of Fate. XX in Batavi revolt|
|XVI Flavia Firma||Samsat, Turkey||Lion||70 Vespasian||post 300||70–117 Satala (CAP); 117 – at least 300 Samosata* SYR||"Vespasian's steadfast 16th". Reformed XVI Gallica|
|XVI Gallica||Mainz, Germany||Lion||41 BC Augustus||70 DD||to 43 Moguntiacum* (GS); 43–70 Novaesium* (GI)||Disbanded for cowardice in Batavi revolt|
|XVII||Xanten, Germany||41 BC Augustus||AD 9 XX||to 15 BC AQ?; 15 BC – AD 9 Castra Vetera* (GI)||Destroyed in Teutoburg Forest, lost aquila standard, never rebuilt|
|XVIII||Xanten, Germany||41 BC Augustus||AD 9 XX||to 15 BC AQ?; 15 BC – AD 9 Castra Vetera* (GI)||Destroyed in Teutoburg Forest, lost aquila standard, never rebuilt.|
|XIX||Xanten, Germany||41 BC Augustus||AD 9 XX||to 15 BC unknown; 15 BC – AD 9 somewhere in GI||Possibly saw action in the conquest of Rhaetia in 15 BC. Destroyed in Teutoburg Forest, lost aquila standard, never rebuilt.|
|XX Valeria Victrix||Chester, England||Boar||31 BC Augustus||after 250 UF||to AD 9 Burnum DLM; 9–43 Oppidum Ubiorum GI; 43–55 Camulodunum* BRIT; 55–66 Burrium* BRIT; 66–78 Viroconium* BRIT; 78–88 Inchtuthil* BRIT; 88 – at least 250 Deva* BRIT||vigesima named for Messalla? XX in Allectus' fall 296?|
|XXI Rapax||Vindonissa (Windisch, Switzerland)||Capricorn||31 BC Augustus||92 XX||AD 9–43 GI; 43–70 Vindonissa* (RT); 70–89 GI; 89–92 PAN||"Predator 21st". XX by Roxolani Sarmatian tribe PAN|
|XXII Deiotariana||Alexandria, Egypt||48 BC||132? 161? XX||to c. 8 BC GAL; c. 8 BC – at least 123 Alexandria* (AEG)||GAL king "Deiotarus's 22nd". XX by Jewish rebels in 132? or by Parthians in Armenia in 161?|
|XXII Primigenia||Mainz, Germany||Hercules||39 Caligula||after 300||39 – c. 300 Moguntiacum* (GS)||Raised for Caligula's German war|
|XXX Ulpia Victrix||Xanten, Germany||Jupiter||105 Trajan||post 400||105–122 DC; 122 – c. 400 Castra Vetera* (GI)||"Trajan's victorious 30th" (M Ulpius Traianus)|
The numbering of the legions is confusing, since 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 Teutoburg Forest, were never used again. (These three legions are without titles, suggesting that in disgrace their titles may have been deliberately forgotten or left unmentioned.) 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 (loyal and faithful), 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
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 means that two diminished legions have been combined to make one new one.
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
For legions that are documented into the 4th 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:
Indicates the bases (castra) and/or provinces where the legion was based during its history, with dates.
Contains 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, 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. 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 c. 107). In reality provincial borders were modified several times between 30 BC and 284: this explains any discrepancy with other sources, as to a legion's location at a particular date.
Main article: Late Roman army
Diocletian reorganized the Roman army, in order to better counter the threat of the Germanic peoples of northern 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:
These units usually numbered between 300 and 2,000 soldiers and some of them kept their original numbering schemes. The primary source for the legions of this era is the Notitia Dignitatum, a late 4th-century document containing all the civil and military offices of both halves of the Roman Empire (revised in c. 420 for the Western Empire).