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Legio X

Posted November 30th, 2012 at 07:24 PM by okamido

Not finished, still being researched. Just placed in blog while I solidify my ideas and search out new material
I am curious now about Legio X Equestris, Fretensis, and Gemina.

Most discussions are that Equestris was Caesar's famed 10th, and after a mutiny against Augustus, it lost its cognomen, was reinforced with men from varying other Legions, and rechristened, Gemina. This is the idea that was postulated by Professor Mommsen over 100 years ago, and has been regurgitated ever since. The evidence for this seems to be the inscription at Rome for a Legio X Gemina Equestris and the anecdote that some of the legion was briefly placed on horseback by Caesar. Dr. Keppie points out though, and quite interestingly so, that this would make this Legion the only one from the Civil War that had two names, the "Gemina Equestris", and that this is the only evidence that connects Gemina with Equestris. It is Keppie's belief that the inscription refers only to a equties legiones and not to to some unique Legion.

This brings us to to the Legio X Fretensis ("Straights"), which according to Mommsen, stood for Straights of Messina. This however was just his assumption as no source places any Legio X aboard any of Agrippa's vessels during the battles of Mylae or Naulochos, which weren't faught by those straights anyway.

Where could "Fretensis" have come from then? During the Civil War, Caesar crossed to Epirus via the Otranto Straights Where Antony and several veteran Legions routed Libo's senatorial forces. Why do we think that Legio X may have been among the veterans taking part in this victory? A notation by Appian in 43bce states that Legio X had in the past been led by Antony, but there is apparently no known instance of when this could have occured, outside of the Ostranto Straights incident.

So was the Fretensis the famed legion of Caesar, or was it the Equestris, later the Gemina (which is only ever factually identified as the Gemina Equestris) that was the feared of the feared?

Caes. CW, III, 5
Fink. AJ of Philology.(vol 63, No.1 pp61-71)
Kepp. MRA, 5
Kepp. CVSI, 2.2, n. 44
Starr. III.2, III.3 v.1
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