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|Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.|
LEG Legatus, a lieutenant or deputy. LEG AVG PR R. LEG AVG PP (Legatus Augusti Pro-Praetor), Lieutenant of the Emperor for the Praetor.
LEG Legio, the Roman Legion.
LEG Legio. Legion, the body of soldiers thus named by the Romans was comprised of calvary and infantry, but the number of which it consisted differed considerably at different ephocas. Under the republic, the legions were commanded by one of the consuls, and by their lieutenants. Under the emperors they were commanded by a praefectus exercituum. In the earliets ages of Rome, when the number of the legion did not exceed 3,000 foot soldiers, there were only three tribunes in each. But when afterwards the legion was augmented to four and five thousand, that of the tribunes was carried to six; and on a further increase to 6,000 infantry, the number of tribunes was increased again, even to sixteen. Each manipulus or division of 200 men had for its chief an officer named ducenarius; and he who commanded 100 men was called a centurian. Each legion had for its general ensign an eagle with stretched-out wings.
The calvary which belonged to each legion bore the name ala, because usually placed on its flanks it formed its wings. It was divided into ten parts, called turmae, as many there were cohorts. The calvary of Roman armies were heavily armed; but made no use of spears, and had only flat saddles.
Among Roman legionaries under the republic there were no light calvary; it was a species of force known only among the auxilliary troops. But the emperors established troops of light horse under the name sagittarii, or archers, armed only with sword, bow, and quiver of arrows. When the legions gained a victory, the Roman eagles were adorned with laurels, and so were the standards of the calvary, and the ensigns on which the portrait of the emperor was placed, and before which perfumes were burnt, as a religious ceremony.
The legions were distinguished by the order in which they were respectively raised, as prima, secunda, tria (LEG I, LEG II, LEG III) etc. Previous to the time of Mark Antony, no mention is made of the legions on Roman coins. The 30th (LEG XXX) is the last noted on the denarii of that triumvir. The series up to XX is perfect. From that to the 30th there are several gaps. The 25th, the 28th, and the 29th are not to be found on coins. The 27th appears, indeed, on one medal, but its genuineness is not authenticated. The 22nd, surbamed Primigenia, is found on coins of Carausius.
Besides the denarii of Mark Antony, of which an example is here introduced,
we find the number of legions marked on coins struck under emperors Severus, Gallienus, Victorinus, Carausius, etc., as well as upon many colonial medals. It is to be remarked, that upon the coins, not only of Mark Antony, but also of many emperors, the indication of legions between the numbers 20 and 30 were incomplete. Their number, which had too much increased during civil wars of the republic, was diminished by Augustus.
Dion Cassius relates that in the year of Rome 758, the number of legions of Roman citizens was, according to some, 23; according to others 25. Under Severus Alexander, there yet remain nineteen. As to the legions not composed of Roman citizens, the same author says that they had been either totally disbandoned, or amalgamated with the other legions under different emperors. The imperial series of Roman coins exhibit the number of legions no further than the 22nd; the seven following are not mentioned on them. But the 30th is again found on medals of Severus, Gallienus, Victorinus, and Carausius. Some of these intermediate legions are, however, recorded in lapidary inscriptions.
Legions were, after Augustus's time, sometimes designated by the same number, Thus there were three "third legions," distinguished from each other by the surnames of Gallica, Cyrenaica, and Augusta; also two "sixth legions," the one called Victrix and the other Ferrata. The emperor Galba raise a Legio Prima, surnamed Adjutrix, although Nero had already formed a first legion, called Italica.
With regard to the probable motives which led to the inscription of legions on Roman medals, it may be observed that not only Mark Antony and Clodius Macer; but in later times Septimius Severus and other emperors were, in certain periods of their career, dependent in great measure for their very existance on the favour of the troops, whom they thus sought to conciliate. On colonial coins, the legions were numerically cited, either in consequence of certain veterans belonging to these legions having been sent by some of the emperors into those cities; or because the particular legions happened to be stationed there.Accordingly, on coins of Emerita (now Merida in Portugal), we see LEG V and LEG X, corresponding with the fact adduced by Dion Cassius, that a colony of old legionaries was established in the Lusitanian city by Augustus. The coins of Viminiacum record LEG IV and LEG VII as having been olaced there. From the same cause the coins of the Dacian province present to us LEG V and LEG XIII; and those of Egypt LEG II Traiana (the second Trajanian legion).
Legions derived their particular appellations from various causes. Whilst the republic existed, they were almost wholly distinguished by their number alone, as LEG I, LEG II, etc. Some, however, even at this period, received their names from those of their commanders. The Legiones Valerianae, or Valerian legions, were thus denominated, because they were raised by Caius Valerius Flaccus, the same chief who gave the name of Valeria to the 20th legion. On the denarii of Mark Antony we have the legions called Antuqua, Classica. Lybica. Under the emperors, the legions received titles derived from the names of families of the reigning princes, as Augusta, Flavia, Trajana, Ulpia, etc. Also from deities, as Minervia; or from regions, as Italiea, Parthica, Macedonica, etc.; or from some event, as Victrix, Adjutrix, Liberatrix, etc. Sometimes the legions bear the name of GEMELLA or GEMINA. But of all the surnames assigned to the Roman legions, none are so common as those af Pia and Fidelis. Dion fully explains these names, and shews that Ti. Claudius caused LEG VII and LEG XI, who in the sedition of Camillus had preservedtheir fidelity to him, to be named Claudia et Fidelis et Piae, by a senatus consultum. To this may be added the celebrated marble, adduced by Gruter and Fabretti, inscribed under the reign of Commodus, on which C. Vesnius Vindex is called TRIB MIL LEG VIII AVG QVO MILITANTE CVM LIBERATA ESSET NOVIA OBSIDIONE LEGIO PIA FIDELIS CONSTANS COMMODA COGNOMINATA EST. Monumental inscriptions should be studied conjointly with coins for the location of the legions; much information of importance will be found in Horsley's Britannia Romana, a standard work on the Roman inscriptions relating to Britain up to 1732. Gough, Lysons, and others, including Wellbeloved's Eburacum, J. E. Lee's Caerleon, and the Collectanea Antiqua, may be consulted for the more recent doscoveries in Great Britain.