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It's long been known that the percentage of legionary recruits of Italian origin decreased steadily from mid first century onwards - various books (Webster, for example) provide tables showing the spread of recruitment over the centuries, with provincials coming to vast outnumber Italians as the years go by. These figures are compiled from inscriptions giving the names and origins of legionaries, often at discharge.

One of these inscriptions, from Viminiacum in Moesia Superior, is particularly detailed, but I don't know whether it's been studied or discussed in particular. The inscription (CIL III, 14507) gives the names of around 225 veterans of Legion VII Claudia Pia Fidelis. It's dated to AD195 (‘Clemen(s) et Prisco consulibus’ - i.e. P. Iulius Scapula Tertullus Priscus and Q. Tineius Clemens consuls), and the men were enlisted in AD169 (the consulate of Priscus and Apollinaris - the former consul, incidentally, having just about the longest Roman name I've ever encountered!).

What's interesting about this one is the very specific regional focus of recruitment. Most other legions I've seen detailed in this way have quite a spread, with men from the Rhine and Danube, Africa, Gaul etc. But VII Claudia, which had been based in Viminiacum for over a century by this point, seems to have recruited overwhelmingly from the immediate local area. This would not be surprising in a later legion, maybe - one of the limitanei formations of late imperial times - but for the height of the principiate it seems unusual.

Of the 225 names, 75 (approx 33%?) are of unidentifiable origin. The remainder break down as follows:

Remesiana – 42 (approx 18%)
Scupi – 37 (approx 16%)
Ratiara – 24 (approx 10%)
Sirmio – 8
Castris – 7
Salonis – 6
Sarmezigetusa – 4
Nicopolis – 4
Mursa – 3
Pautalia – 2
Ampelo – 2
Trimontio – 2
Others - 9

The 'others' are Thessalonika, Pergamum, Iadero, Heraclea, Phillipi, Traianopolis, Zerna, Ancyra and Romula, all with one recruit each. The percentage calculations are very rough (maths not being my strongest point!)

Remesiana and Scupi both lie south-east of Naissus, capital of Moesia Superior. Ratiaria is on the Danube, downstream from Viminiacum itself. Sarmezigetusa, of course, is across the river in Dacia, and the other towns all lie within Pannonia, Dalmatia, Macedonia and Thrace. 'Castris' is the usual 'from the camp', although only seven men have this origin. The only men from outside the Balkan region come from Ancryra in Anatolia and Pergamum in Mysia.

By itself, this inscription might present a fascinating snapshot of legion recruitment at a specific moment in time, with the legion drawing men from particular towns and cities in the locality. The preponderance of 'imperial' nomen (Aurelius, Antonius, Ulpius), and the frequent 'barbarian' cognomen (Bithus, Dassius, Drigissa, Daizo), might suggest that many of the men came from families recently given citizenship - perhaps former auxiliaries?

But how reliable is this? Are there any comparable inscriptions from the same period which might present a different picture? And, considering the date of these men's enlistment, could there have been something unusual about it - a mass provincial levy connected with the Marcomannic wars, perhaps?

- Nathan
Sounds probable. Aurelius did do that. But also, it makes you wonder if the other outlaying provices would not recruit from the citizen stock withing the region? Caesar seems to have started this in Cisalpine Gual.....(or Trans-Alpine :? )
Fratres,

Very interesting post. I do not have any additional epigraphic evidence but this points to a sort of confirmation of the oral traditions of one of my Minorities here in the Balkans. Lots of minor variations depending on which sub region the story comes from but the gist is that the sons of the Veterans (New Citizens) went into the local Legions and that became a family tradition of sorts.

Does anyone else have any information on the prevalence of local ties of other legions?


Regards from a pleasantly cool and sunny Scupi, Arminius Primus aka Al