IX Hispana according to Emil Ritterling

Simon Elliott's new book about Legio IX Hispana - review forthcoming - has increased interest in Duncan B. Campbell's old article about the final destiny of this legion. I thought we could add something to that, however. A long time ago, we translated Emil Ritterling's lemma about this legion from the Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (1925!). That article came down when the old RomanArmy.com site became just RomanArmyTalk. But I have the backup. So here goes and brace yourself, it gets a bit technical:

LXIV. Legio VIIII Hispana. Columns 1664-1668.

This legion is probably connected to the Caesarian legion of the same serial number, although a tangible indication for this assumption has as yet not been found. Possibly the young Caesar [e.g. Octavian] raised it anew, as he did in the case of the VIIth and VIIIth, out of Caesarian veterans settled in Italy. On an early inscription, the legion has the nickname triumph(alis?). If this indeed dates back to 43 BC as Domaszewski suggests (Österr. Jahresh. II Beibl. 83), because it possibly took part in the victorious entry by the triumvirs (Appian, BC IV.7), then that would be the earliest known inscription of this legion. The nickname Macedonica, which was appropriate for the conquering legions of Phillipi according to Mommsen (RGDA 2 p.68) dates to the same period.  Tribunus mil. Leg. VIIII Macedonicae (CIL III 551) L. Aquilius Florus Turcianus would have served in the legion in the early Augustan age, about 25 BC. He probably occupied the post of proquaestor of Cyprus directly after the submission of this province to the senate in 22 BC. As his inscription was set up in Athens, the older nickname Macedonica cannot yet have been replaced by the younger Hispana.  But this nickname of Hispana or Hispaniensis (see CIL V 7443, Ephem. VIII nr. 530, CIL X 6098) necessarily supposes that the legion was stationed in Spain for a substantial period and was gloriously engaged in the quelling of the northern Spanish insurrections against the Roman occupation, which lasted until 19 BC.


Even if this name was not granted officially, but, as is very common in legions named after peoples and countries, was given by other soldiers at its arrival in another part of the empire, after coming from Spain, the end result cannot be refuted: this legion belonged to a Spanish army early in the Imperial Age. To a certain extent, this is confirmed by the following inscription Ephem. Epigr. VIII nr.530: "M. Aemili M. f. Pob(lilia) Soteriae equities domo Oscensis veterani leg. VIIII Hispanie(n)s(is)".  The Spanish homeland of this soldier is understandable if the Legion was in Spain when he went into its service. Subsequently, certainly still under Augustus, he settled in Cales as Veteranus and (or is shown to be) of the Tribus Poblilia, related to this city, and not Quirina, the Tribus of his old fatherland. (different explanation in Von Domaszewski Bonn. Jahrb. CXVII 68.9) But a little while after the crushing of the greater part of the Spanish rebellion in 19 BC, the legion was sent to a different theatre of war, Illyricum, where we already find its nickname Hisp(ana) on an early tombstone (CIL V 911). Literary records however begin only in AD 14 (Tac., Ann. I.23 and 30) but some of its memorials surely belong to the Augustan age. A fragment (CIL III 13977) from Gardun in Dalmatia belongs in the period before the division of Illyricum, which took place during the great Dalmatian-Pannonian rebellion in AD 6: "Sex. Cornelius Sex. f. Camilia Nonanus veter[anus]", if it were certain that Nonanus here refers to a member of the VIIIIth legion. After the division of Illyricum, Leg. VIIII was allocated to the army of Illyricum Inferius (=Pannonia). In Aquileia, the road junction and military support and jumping-off base for all operations in Illyricum, several early tombstones of soldiers of Leg. VIIII have been found (CIL V 911, 947, Pais Suppl. P.24 nr. 180; likewise from Histria CIL V 8197, the stone of the Centurio CIL V 906 is younger). In the period before the installation of an Imperial Province Illyricum, while only a single commandant was in command of the Exercitus Illyricus here (Arch. Epigr. Mitt. XX 1897, 1-4), Aquileia may continually have been a legionary camp as well. But later, from 11 BC onwards, all legions were transferred further inland. In AD 14, the three Pannonian legions were together in one summer camp (Tac., Ann. I.16), but were in separate camps in winter (Ann. I.30 "suis quisque hibernis redderentur") and therefore marched out of the summer camp one after another. The VIIIIth will have stood along the river course of the Save, surely in Siscia, certainly no further downstream. In AD 20, the legion was transferred to Africa as reinforcement for Legio III Augusta, as the troubles with the Numidian Tacfarinas could not be repressed definitively. The legion met with Calpurnius Piso, who had been called away from Syria, on the Via Flaminia (Tac., Ann. III.9). On this episode in the legion's history, see Cagnat, L'Armée Rom. d'Afrique 2 13.19.10f.


In the overview of the placement of the legions in the various provinces in AD 23, Legio VIIII is therefore counted as one of the two African legions (Tac., Ann. IV.5). Its legate, P.Cornelius Scipio, was in command of one of the columns operating in the war against Tacfarinas (Tac.Ann. III.74). After the successes in the following years under the command of Proconsul Iunius Blaesus, the danger of Tacfarinas seemed eliminated. The emperor, therefore, ordered the legion moved back in AD 24 (Tac. Ann. IV.23: "reportari nonam legionem iusserat"). Pfitzners guess that the legion was posted to Spain, is supported by no evidence whatsoever, and is refuted by the linguistic expression "reportari" alone. This can only mean that the legion was called back to the province from which it had been sent away, so that means Pannonia (see also Cagnat, L'Armée Rom.1 100, 4). The legion probably settled back in its old winter camp (Siscia?). To that period in Illyricum, starting with the Augustan age, belong the inscriptions from veterans buried in their homeland (CIL V 5218, 5818, 7443). The miles leg. VIIII signifer who was distinguished with phalerae, torques and armillae, surely belonging to the Augustan period (CIL V 7495), would have been allowed to go back to his homeland, judging from the findspot of his tombstone. Before Claudius reign we know the following primipili of this legion: ".urius C. f. Gallus" (CIL X 6098, following v. Domaszewski's addition) and "I]ulius C. f. "(CIL XII 261). Legio VIIII departed from Pannonia when the army for the conquest of Britain was collected during AD 42/43. The designated commander in chief, the consular Aulus Plautius, until that time governor of Pannonia (Ritterling, Arch. Epigr. Mitt. XX 8f.), brought a trusted familiar legion from his own province with him to the island, precisely the VIIIIth, perhaps together with vexillations from both other legions. It is however only first mentioned in AD 61 when it was resoundingly defeated (Tac. Ann. XIV 32), while it was trying to come to the aid of the threatened colony of Camulodunum during the British rebellion. It was at that time under command of the legate Petilius Cerialis. Inscriptions however point back to the start of the occupation and allow an insight into the participation of the legion in the conquest and occupation of the island. These questions have been carefully tackled and answered by Hübner. Herm. 535ff and Panzer Histor. Unters. fr A. Schäfer 174f. and most recent by G. Teuber, Beitr. zur Gesch. der Eroberung Britanniens (Breslauer Stud. zur Gesch. III 1909).


According to this (study), the legion operated out of Londinium in a northerly direction and pacified the British tribes. Possibly still under A. Plautius, at the latest under his successor Ostorius, the legion marched north to the borders of the realm of the powerful Brigantes. There its basecamp became Lindum starting AD 48, as four tombstones show without any doubt. Three of these soldiers (CIL VII 183, 188 + 196 = Ephem. IX p.557 and nr. 1111) have no cognomen as yet, so were surely buried during Claudius reign, which corresponds to the style and form of the inscriptions. The fourth memorial, set up for a born Spaniard, belongs probably to Nero's reign (CIL VII 184 and Ephem. Epigr. IX p.556). Here the legion had its winter camp during the revolt in AD 61 and it was to this camp that its legate Cerialis retreated with the survivors of the defeat - according to Tacitus only the legionary cavalry - staying there until the victory of the XIIIIth and XXth legion eliminated the danger and a strong contingent from the German legions brought the legion back up to strength (Tac. Ann. XIV 38). Probably the troubles of 68/69 also found the legion in its old camp, from which a vexillation left to escort Vitellius, recognized as emperor by the British army, to Italy and Rome and shared in his defeat at Cremona (Tac. Hist. II.57; 100; III.1; 22). When in AD 71 Petilius Cerialis, the legion's former legate, returned to the island as its governor on Vespasian's orders and started an energetic offensive to the north and west of the occupied areas, Legio VIIII Hispana left its camp at Lindum, which it had occupied for about 25 years, for a new one at Eburacum. The inscriptions and other finds here seem to be no earlier than the Flavian period. The only accurately dated inscription, coincidentally the youngest one as well, is the inscription announcing the legions building activities under Trajan in 108/109 (CIL VII 241) (also known as RIB 665). Tiles with the legionary stamp are rare (VII 1224 a, b and e; Ephem. VII nr. 1123). One altar has been set up by a corni(cen) belonging to the legion (Ephem VII nr. 928); two tombstones of soldiers are CIL VII 243, 244. Outside of the main camp, tiles have been very infrequently found (VII 1224 c and d), and north of Hadrians wall in Carlisle (Luguvallium?): Ephem. Epigr. IX p.646 nr. 1270 = Arch. Journ. XLIX 1881 p.199f.; up till now its not yet proven if the legion was one of the units building the wall. Vespasian discharged some veterans of the VIIIIth legion back to his own birthplace, Reate (CIL IX 4685, 4689).


In the second half of Vespasian's reign, the legion was commanded by C. Caristanius C.f. Ser(gia) Fronto, who is attested in an honorary inscription found in the native city of his family, Antiochia Pisidiae, "leg. Imp. divi Vespasiani Aug. leg. IX Hispanae in Britann(is)" (JRS III 1913 p.260 nr. 4). Since he got his next appointment, the governorship of Lycia Pamphylia, from Titus, he will have held this command till the last years of Vespasian's reign, and therefore was in command of the legion under Iulius Agricola in his first campaigns. During the later years of Agricola's governorship, the legion gave up a strong vexillation under command of the legion's tribunus laticlavius, L. Roscius Aelianus, for the war against the Chatti in AD 83 (CIL XIV 3612). A trace of this vexillation is found on the tile stamps of Mirebeau, from which we learn that the other British legions also sent vexillations, albeit smaller ones, together with the VIIIIth (Ritterling, Österr. Jahresh. VII Beibl. 26). Shortly after AD 83, these units took part in large building projects in the land of the Lingones together with vexillations of the five legions from Germania Superior under command of the primuspilus C. Velius Rufus (see the inscription ILS 9200). That the VIIIIth legion sent an especially large detachment of 1000 men, is confirmed both by the senatorial rank of its commander and by Tacitus description in Agricola 26: in the sixth year of Agricola's governorship, thus in AD 83/84, the enemy, appraised of the plan to operate in three columns, attacked Legio VIIII Hispana, because it was the weakest ("universi nonam legionem ut maxime invalidam adgressi"); only Agricola's personal appearance prevented a grave defeat and drove out the enemy troops that already entered the campsite. Very little is known about the legion for the next 40 years. There isn't even any indication if the legion took part in the Danube campaigns of Domitian and Trajan or the latter's Parthian war. Soon after, the legion must have been destroyed. From the last parts of Fronto's words (p. 218 N. "Hadriano imperium optinente quantum militum a Iudacis, quantum a Britannia caesum") it has rightly been concluded that the legion was destroyed in Hadrian's reign. It is generally thought that the dangerous British revolt which had to be put down in 119/120, was the cause (see also Weber, Hadrian 110f); the destruction of the legion would have had as a direct consequence the transfer from Germania of Legio VI Victrix. On other grounds, that can, however, also be dated to 121/122. Against this perceptive conclusion, however, the following facts are pertinent. Looking at their later careers, several tribunes of senatorial rank cannot have served in the legion before 120. This is not valid for L. Burbulcius Optatus Ligarianus, who was governor of Cappadocia at Hadrians death, and therefore was consul under Hadrian. He may have been trib. Laticlav. IX Hispan. in Trajan's later years (CIL X 6006). But L. Aemilius Karus, who governed Arabia as praetor seemingly in 142/143 under Antoninus Pius (inscription from Gerasa, AE 1909, 236), must have advanced very slowly in his career if he was tribune in Leg. VIIII Hispana before AD 120. The tribunate wasn't even the beginning of a career. And highly improbably seems the possibility of L. Novius Crispinus Martialis Saturninus, who commanded Legio III Augusta in Africa in 147-149 and reached the consulate at the earliest in 150 or 151 (CIL VIII 2747, 18273. Prosopogr. II 447 nr. 144). If he were trib. mil. leg. VIIII Hispan. before AD 119, at that time about 20 years old, he then would have needed over 30 years to reach the consulate, a timespan that was very uncommon in this period. So we must take into account the possibility that a second British revolt took place in the middle or latter part of the 120s, in which the legion was destroyed.  Legati legionis.
  • C. Caristanius C. f. Serg. Fronto., leg. Imp,. divi Vespasiani Aug. leg. IX Hispanae in Britann(ia). Inscription from Antiochia Pisidiae in JRS III (1913), 260, nr.4. Since he was legate in the latter part of Vespasian's reign, he participated under Agricola's command in his campaigns.
  • P. Cornelius Lentulus Scipio, .legato Ti. Caesaris Aug. leg. VIIII Hispan, CIL V.4329. He commanded the legion during its stay in Africa, Tac. Ann. III.74, see above.
  • Q. Petilius Cerialis, in AD 61 during Boudiccas revolt. Tac. Ann. XIV 32.
  • L.ninius L.f. Pa. Sextius Florentinus, CIL III. 87 add. P.968 and nr. 1414810; probably in Trajan's latter years or the earlier of Hadrian's reign.
Tribuni Militum
  • L. Aemilius L. f. Cam. Karus (laticl.) CIL VI 1333; in Hadrian's early years. Since he was governor of Arabia in 142/143, he can only have been tribune after 120 (see above)
  • L. Aquillius C.f. Pom. Florus Turcianus (laticl.) CIL III 551, under Augustus, probably before 22 BC.
  • L. Burbuleius L. f. Quir. Optatus Ligarianus (laticl.) X 6006, trib. Laticl. at the end of Trajans reign or begin of Hadrian's.
  • Q. Camurius Lem. Numisius Iunior, (laticl.) XI 5670, 5671.
  • C. Fulvius, under Tiberius, VI 30856 (3675).
  • L. Novius Crispinus Martialis Saturninus (laticl.), VIII 2747. Since he was commander of Legio III Augusta in Africa in 147-149, his military tribunate cannot rightly fall before AD 123.
  • L. Ruscius M. f. Quir. Aelianus Maecius Celer, under Domitian (laticl.), took part in the war against the Chatti in AD 83 (CIL XIV 3612), perhaps the same man in Ephem. IX 612.
  • L. Ste. Hor, CIL VIII 5355 = 17493
  • Unknown, CIL XI 1838, 5173. XIII 4030, Ephem. IX 612
Praefecti Castrorum
  • L. Decrius L. f. Ser. Longinus, Not.d.scav. 1913, 22. 
Primi ordines
  • M. Cocceius M.f.Pol. Severus, prim.pilus, CIL V 7159
  • ..I]ulius C.f., primus pilus, XUU 261
  • ..]urius C.f. Aem. Gallys, p[rim. Pilus leg. VIIII] Hispaniensis, X 6098.
  • Unknown, XI 3112 
  • Antonius Karus, perhaps around AD 69, CIL VI 3639.
  • Babudius Severus C.f. Latinus, XII 2601
  • T.Cassius T.f.Firmus, V 906
  • Ti. Claudius Ti.f.Gal. Vitalis, VI 3584, under Trajan.
  • .. Hospes, Ephem. IX nr. 1111 
  • L. Val(erius) L. f. Proculus, CIL III 12411.
Soldiers' origins

During the Pannonian period (until AD 43)

  • Italia: Augusta Taurinorum (CIL V 7495), Berua (CIL V 947), Bononia (Pais nr. 180), Forum Fulvi (CIL V 744), Mediolanium (V 5818), Verona (V 911), from Transpadana (Comum?) (V 5218), because of the Tribe Camilia surely Italic CIL III 13977.
  • Hispania: Osca (Ephem. Epigr. VIII nr. 530)

During the period in Britain (starting AD 43)

  • Italia: Novaria (CIL VII 244), Pisaurum (VII 188 + 196 = Ephem. IX p.557), Verona (IX 4685), because of the tribe Maecia surely Italic (Ephem. IX nr.1111)
  • Narbonensis: Forum Iulii (CIL VI 3639, see also XII 249, 260), Vienna (VII 243)
  • Hispania: Clunia (VII 184 = Ephem. Epigr. IX p.556)
  • Macedonia: Heracles (CIL VII 183).
Names of the legion On many inscriptions the legion is without a nickname, although it is already called Hispana in the Augustan age. The nickname, usually abridged, in full is Hispana, i.e. CIL V 4329, 7159, VI 1333, 3639, VIII 18273, JRS III (1913), 260.4.

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