Legio I Italica
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Legio I Italica
Map of the Roman empire in AD 125, under emperor Hadrian, showing the Legio I Italica, stationed on the river Danube at Novae (near Svishtov, Bulgaria), in Moesia Inferior province, from AD 70 until the 5th century
Denarius issued in 193 by Septimius Severus, to celebrate I Italica, which supported the commander of the Pannonian legions in his fight for the purple.

Legio I Italica ("First Italian Legion") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded by emperor Nero on September 22, 66 (the date is attested by an inscription). The epithet Italica is a reference to the Italian origin of its first recruits. It was stationed at Novae, near modern-day Svishtov (Bulgaria). There are still records of the I Italica on the Danube border at the beginning of the 5th century. The emblem of the legion was a boar.


In the aftermath of the Roman-Parthian War of 58-63, Emperor Nero levied the I Italica with the name phalanx Alexandri Magni ("phalanx of Alexander the Great"), for a campaign in Armenia, ad portas Caspias - to the pass of Chawar. The sources mention the peculiar fact that the original legionaries were Italics, all over six feet tall. However, since the Jewish Revolt broke out a few weeks later, the projected Armenian campaign never took place. Also, the governor of Gaul, Gaius Julius Vindex, rose in revolt in early 68 and I Italica was redirected there, arriving just in time to see the end of the revolt. In the Year of the Four Emperors (69), after the death of Nero, the legion received the name I Italica and fought for Vitellius at the second Battle of Bedriacum, where the Vitellians were defeated by forces supporting Vespasian. The new emperor sent I Italica to the province of Moesia in 70 where they encamped at Novae (modern Svishtov) which became the legion's base of operations for centuries.

The legion served on campaign during the Dacian wars of Trajan. The legion was also responsible for bridge construction over the Danube. Building activities seem to have been an area of expertise for the legion. On 3 December 1969 a Roman votive altar was found at Old Kilpatrick on the Antonine Wall dating from around 140 A.D.[1] It has been scanned and a video produced.[2] The inscription mentions the First Cohort of Baetasians, previously known to have been at Bar Hill, and also Julius Candidus, a centurion from I Italica.

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius, Legio I Italica was involved in the wars against the Germanic tribes that threatened to cross the Danube. After a long war, the Romans had conquered much territory on the left side of the Danube. There Marcus Aurelius had intended to form a new province under governor Aulus Julius Pompilius Piso, commander of I Italica and IV Flavia Felix, but the revolt of Avidius Cassius in the East prevented this.

In 193, the Governor of Pannonia Superior, Septimius Severus claimed the purple and moved to Italia. I Italica supported Severus, but did not move to Italy. The legion fought against Severus' rival, Pescennius Niger, besieging Byzantium together with XI Claudia, fighting at Issus. The First possibly took part in the Parthian campaign of Severus (198).

In the 3rd century, during the rule of Caracalla, the legion participated in the construction of the Limes Transalutanus, a defensive wall along the Danube, which began near Novae. Under Alexander Severus, some vexillationes of the I Italica moved to Salonae, guarding the Dalmatian coast.

Attested members

Name Rank Time frame Province Source
Gaius Manlius Valens legatus legionis AD 69 Tacitus, Histories, i.64
Lucius Cossonius Gallus legatus legionis before 105 Moesia CIL III, 6813
Marcus Titius Lustricus Bruttianus[3] legatus legionis between 101 and 106 Moesia
Lucius Novius Crispinus[4] legatus legionis c. 140-c. 143 Moesia CIL VIII, 2747
Lucius Venuleius Apronianus[4] legatus legionis c. 143-c. 144 Moesia CIL IX, 1432
Appius Claudius Martialis[5] legatus legionis before 160 Moesia
Lucius Varius Ambibulus[4] legatus legionis c. 160 Moesia CIL X, 3872
Aulus Julius Pompilius Piso[4] legatus legionis c. 175-c. 176 Moesia
Marcus Magnus Valerianus[4] legatus legionis c. 177-180 Moesia CIL XI, 2106
Marcus Valerius Maximianus[6] legatus legionis ? 181 Moesia AE 1956, 124
Publius Septimius Geta[6] legatus legionis c. 185 Moesia AE 1946, 131
Lucius Marius Maximus Perpetuus Aurelianus[7] legatus legionis c. 193 Moesia CIL VI, 1450
Lucius Julius Lucilianus legatus legionis between 151 and 200 Moesia CIL III, 784
Val(erius) O[...]tianus[7] legatus legionis 15 May 208 Moesia AE 1982, 849
Quintus Servaeus Fuscus Cornelianus[7] legatus legionis 5 October 227 Moesia AE 1972, 526
Font(eius) Maximus[8] legatus legionis 1 May 233 Moesia
Gaius Vettius Sabinianus tribunus angusticlavius c. 155 Moesia AE 1920, 45 = ILAfr 281
Lucius Marcius Celer Marcus Calpurnius Longus[9] tribunus laticlavius 1st quarter 2nd century Moesia AE 1972, 620, AE 1972, 621
Quintus Antistius Adventus tribunus laticlavius c. 150 Moesia AE 1972, 620, AE 1893, 88 = ILS 8977

See also


  1. ^ Barber, R. L. N. (Sep 2010). "A ROMAN ALTAR FROM OLD KILPATRICK, DUNBARTONSHIRE". Glasgow Archaeological Journal. 2 (2): 117-119. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ "Altar to Jupiter, Old Kilpatrick". Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ § 185 Marcus Titius Lustricus Bruttianus, Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine, text, translation, and bibliography (last accessed 24 February 2018)
  4. ^ a b c d e Géza Alföldy, Konsulat und Senatorenstand unter der Antoninen (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag 1977), p. 297
  5. ^ Olli Salomies, "Adoptive and Polyonymous Nomenclature in the Roman Empire - Some Addenda", Epigrafia e Ordine Senatorio, 30 Anni Dopo, p. 531
  6. ^ a b Paul M. M. Leunissen, Konsuln und Konsulare in der Zeit von Commodus bis Severus Alexander (1989), p. 335
  7. ^ a b c Leunissen, Konsuln und Konsulare, p. 336
  8. ^ Leszek Mrozewicz, "Ein neuer römischer Senator aus Novae (Moesia Inferior)", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 57 (1984), pp. 179-180
  9. ^ Giuseppe Camodeca, "Una nuova coppia di consoli del 148 e il proconsul Achaiae M. Calpurnius Longus", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 112 (1996), pp. 235-240

External links

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