Roman Legions under the Empire
Origins and activities

30/27BC to 284AD
 

Update Status

  • 27th Nov 2016: all legions have now been added in first pass. Further updates can be seen under News and below under update dates.

Notes

  • The purpose of this section is not to give a detailed history of the Roman imperial legions, but to provide summary timeline information of where the legions were based, their relocations to different bases and list which major campaigns they were involved in. This to support the prosopographical entries of the legion officers (legates and tribunes), which may just list the legion name and only sometimes estimated year and province.
  • The period covered is from Augustus ca. 30/27 BC (when many legions of the civil wars were demobilized) until 284, when Diocletian became emperor and started a complete reorganization of the Roman army. For legions in existance in 30/27 BC a brief summary of their provenance and prior history is included.
  • The base sources for the legions of the principate are
    1. Ritterling, E.: entry "Legio" in Real-Encyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Band XII (1924-25)
      • cols.1213-1367 an historical survey with 13 tables showing the deployment of legions
      • cols.1367-1829 entries on all recorded legions in numerical order
    2. Le Bohec, Yann & Wolff, Catherine, edd. Les légions de Rome sous le Haut-Empire, Actes du Congrès de Lyon, (17-19 septembre 1998). Lyon, Université Jean-Moulin, Paris, De Boccard, 2000. 2 volumes ([Collection du Centre d' études romaines et gallo-romaines; nouvelle série 20] (unfortunately only a few articles are available to me, not the whole volume)
  • Also useful are
    1. Keppie, Lawrence: The Making of the Roman Army, Routledge, London, 1998, has appendices with useful summaries on the legions.
    2. Parker, H.M.D.: Roman Legions, Oxford University Press, New York, 1928 (reprinted several times) still useful
    3. Pollard, Nigel & Berry, Joanne: The Complete Roman Legions, Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2012, has a useful bibliography and gives good summary information on their careers with excellent references to inscriptions etc.
  • There is still much uncertainty about when legions were relocated between different provinces, so many dates in the table below are uncertain or approximate.
  • Note that the participation of a a legion vexillation (a detachment of typically 1000 or 2000 men) in a campaign outside their province is often uncertain and only based on one or more inscriptions stating that a soldier or officer from that legion participated in the campaign.


Click on legion name to see details

Legion name Abbrev. Update Year formed Year disbanded Notes
I Adiutrix I Adi 2016-09-29 68 AD exists 284 Raised by Nero from sailors of the Misenum fleet.
I Germanica I Ger 2016-09-29 48 or 43 BC 70 AD Raised by either Caesar or consul Pansa. Disbanded by Vespasian for legion's surrender in the Civilis revolt.
I Illyricorum I Ill 2016-09-29 273 AD exists 284 Raised by Aurelian after defeat of Palmyra.
I Italica I Ita 2016-09-29 66 AD exists 284 Raised by Nero for a planned Caspian expedition.
I Macriana Liberatrix I Mac 2016-09-29 68 AD 69 AD Raised in revolt by L.Clodius Macer, procos of Africa, after Nero's death. Disbanded by Vitellius after Macer was executed.
I Minervia I Min 2016-09-29 c.83 AD exists 284 Raised by Domitian for the war against the Chatti.
I Parthica I Par 2016-09-29 197 AD exists 284 Raised in Macedonia/Thracia by Septimius Severus for his Eastern wars.
II Adiutrix II Adi 2016-09-29 70 AD exists 284 Officially formed from sailors of the Ravenna fleet 7 March 70 AD by Vespasian, who gave it the title "Pia Fidelis".
II Augusta II Aug 2016-10-28 48/43 BC exists 284 Raised as Caesar's 2nd consular legion 48 BC or formed for Pansa's consular army 43 BC
II Italica II Ita 2016-10-28 c.165 AD exists 284 raised by M.Aurelius in Italy
II Parthica II Par 2016-10-28 197 AD exists 284 raised in Macedonia/Thracia by Septimius Severus for his Parthian wars
II Traiana Fortis II Tra 2016-10-28 c.105 AD exists 284 raised by Trajan for his Parthian war
III Augusta III Aug 2016-11-02 30s BC exists 284 probably raised by Octavian
III Cyrenaica III Cyr 2016-11-01 c.31 BC exists 284 probably raised by M.Antonius in Cyrenaica
III Gallica III Gal 2016-11-02 48 BC? exists 284 ? raised by Caesar in Gaul as his 3rd consular legion or possibly the ex-Caesarian XV legion transferred to Pompeius in 53 and renamed after Pharsalus
III Italica III Ita 2016-11-02 165/6 AD exists 284 raised by M.Aurelius in Italy for wars against the Germans
III Parthica III Par 2016-11-02 c.197 AD exists 284 raised in Macedonia/Thracia by Septimius Severus for his Eastern wars
IV Flavia Felix IV Fla 2016-11-02 70 AD exists 284 formed by Vespasian to replace the disbanded IV Macedonica
IV Macedonica IV Mac 2016-11-04 48 BC 70 AD raised by Caesar as consul. Disbanded by Vespasian for legion's surrender in the Civilis revolt
IV Martia IV Mar 2016-11-04 after 284? n/a raised either by Aurelian (270/275) or more likely by Diocletian after 284
IV Parthica IV Par 2016-11-04 after 284? n/a raised either by Aurelian (270/275) or more likely by Diocletian after 284
IV Scythica IV Scy 2016-11-04 43 BC exists 284 possibly = IIII Sorana in Pansa's army at Mutina or an Antonian legion
V Alaudae V Ala 2016-11-04 c.52 BC 86 AD? raised by Caesar in Transalpina among non-citizens. Probably destroyed in Dacia, never reformed
V Macedonica V Mac 2016-11-04 c.43 BCd exists 284 raised by Octavian (uncertain)
VI Ferrata VI Fer 2016-11-05 58 BC exists 284 Caesar's 6th legion in Gaul
VI Victrix VI Vic 2016-11-05 43 BC exists 284 founded by Octavian
VII Claudia VII Cla 2016-11-05 58 BC exists 284 Caesar's 7th legion in Gaul
VII Gemina VII Gem 2016-11-05 68 AD exists 284 raised 10th June by Galba in Spain
VIII Augusta VIII Aug 2016-11-13 58 BC exists 284 8th legion commanded by Caesar in Gaul
IX Hispana IX His 2016-11-13 58 BC by 162 AD 9th legion commanded by Caesar in Gaul. Date of destruction very uncertain
X Fretensis X Fre 2016-11-30 41/40 BC exists 284 raised by Octavian for war with Sextus Pompeius
X Gemina X Gem 2016-11-30 58 BC exists 284 Caesar's famous 10th legion in Gallic and civil wars. Demobilised 45 BC and reformed in 44 BC by M.Aemilius Lepidus.
XI Claudia XI Cla 2016-11-20 58 BC exists 284 raised by Caesar in Gallia Cisalpina as his 11th legion
XII Fulminata XII Ful 2016-11-20 58 BC exists 284 raised by Caesar in Gallia Cisalpina as his 12th legion
XIII Gemina XIII Gem 2016-11-20 57 BC exists 284 raised by Caesar in Gallia Cisalpina
XIV Gemina XIV Gem 2016-11-20 57 BC exists 284 raised by Caesar in Gallia Cisalpina
XV Apollinaris XV Apo 2016-11-24 53 BC exists 284 raised by Caesar in Gallia Cisalpina as his 15th legion
XV Primigenia XV Pri 2016-11-24 39 AD 70 AD raised by Caligula for his invasion of Britain. Destroyed in Civilis rebellion, never reformedtbd
XVI Flavia Firma XVI Fla 2016-11-24 70 AD exists 284 formed from remaints of disgraced XVI Gallica
XVI Gallica XVI Gal 2016-11-24 49 BC 70 AD raised by Caesar in Gaul. Disbanded by Vespasian and replaced by XVI Flavia
XVII XVII 2016-11-24 49 BC 9 AD raised by Caesar in Italy, later reformed by Octavian. destroyed in the Teutoburg forest
XVIII XVIII 2016-11-24 49 BC 9 AD raised by Caesar in Italy, later reformed by Octavian. destroyed in the Teutoburg forest
XIX XIX 2016-11-24 49 BC 9 AD raised by Caesar in Italy, later reformed by Octavian. destroyed in the Teutoburg forest
XX Valeria Victrtix XX Val 2016-11-27 49 BC exists 284 probably raised by Caesar in Italy for civil war, demobilised and reraised later by Ocgtavian
XXI Rapax XXI Rap 2016-11-27 30s BC 92 AD? raised by Octavian or possibly later after Actium; legion probably destroyed by Sarmatians
XXII Deiotariana XXII Dei 2016-11-27 25 BC ? 132/135 AD legion probably taken over when Galatia became a Roman province; possibly destroyed in 2nd Jewish revolt, gone by 145 AD
XXII Primigenia XXII Pri 2016-11-27 39 AD exists 284 raised by Caligula for his invasion of Britain
XXX Ulpia Victrix XXX Ulp 2016-11-27 c.103 AD exists 284 raised for Trajan's second Dacian campaign
 
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