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Author Topic: Numbering system of Roman Legions?  (Read 1223 times)

Offline Sir Barnaby Hammond-Rye

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Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« on: October 03, 2020, 07:09:00 PM »
Is it known how the numbering system worked for the Roman Legions?

It sort of follows a sequence - with gaps, it seems - but also could have multiple legions with the same name, presumably because they were raised in the same place.

Some names appear to relate to the province raised - or perhaps stationed? - but others appear to be nick-names.

I tried to ask over at the Society of Ancients forum, but that is "members only" - or rather, by invitation only. I used to be a subscriber, but it lapsed. Not sure if that means I would have been a member or not (can't recall.)

Edit: I found a wiki page that went a long way to sorting things out. I don't expect that anyone knows for sure how things were done, and it seems it was largely at the whim of the Emperor.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2020, 09:10:02 PM by Sir Barnaby Hammond-Rye »

Offline Unlucky General

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2020, 09:47:24 PM »
It's bound to have been even more confused in the years of the Republic and civil wars when the forces of Pompey, Caesar and Antony (to name a few) were raising legions all over the place at the same time but in opposition to one another. I don't imagine they were sequentially or formerly registered. Some lasted but many remain nameless and numberless.

Offline The Inscrutable Dr. Huang

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 12:43:48 AM »
Check out pgs 61-64 of Dando-Collins' Legions of Rome.

Offline williamb

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 02:15:45 AM »
Legions could be named after the person who originally raised them, the location where they were raised, the location where they earned battle honors or were later stationed at.  nicknames for performance in battle, etc., Gemina for two understrength legions that were combined, etc.   Names could also be changed over time. This website provides a complete listing of imperial legions and a link to the Dando-Collins book.  https://www.unrv.com/military/legions.php#igermanica
« Last Edit: October 04, 2020, 02:18:20 AM by williamb »

Offline Sir Barnaby Hammond-Rye

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2020, 02:18:00 AM »
Thanks, Guys! Particularly for both the book and the website. Not seen either before!  :)

Offline williamb

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2020, 02:29:47 AM »
At least one of the Augustan legions survived until the seventh century A.D.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legio_V_Macedonica

Offline mr ed

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2020, 03:41:21 AM »
Be VERY careful with Dando- Collins. There’s a lot of conjecture and what might charitably be called imaginative gap filling in his writing. He’s one of only two authors I’ve thrown a book away in the hope of stopping others reading his rubbish.

Offline mr ed

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2020, 04:27:02 AM »
Be VERY careful with Dando- Collins. There’s a lot of conjecture and what might charitably be called imaginative gap filling in his writing. He’s one of only two authors I’ve thrown a book away in the hope of stopping others reading his rubbish.

And in the interests of being helpful rather than just bashing there’s a useful summary on p189 of Erdkamps “Companion to the Roman Army” Goldsworthy’s Complete Roman Army will also probably have something useful, but I don’t have it to hand.

Offline SteveBurt

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Re: Numbering system of Roman Legions?
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2020, 11:05:29 AM »
And in the interests of being helpful rather than just bashing there’s a useful summary on p189 of Erdkamps “Companion to the Roman Army” Goldsworthy’s Complete Roman Army will also probably have something useful, but I don’t have it to hand.

There's a handy summary of the legions of the Principate with names and numbers on page 51
There are six legion '1's five '2's and five '3's, all distinguished by their names (I Germanica, I Italica, etc)

 

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