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Legion X, Augustus', not Julius', earned the cognomen "Fretensis", presumably as a result of some kind of valor in a sea battle. Evidently, this legion was formed as a land unit, but many of its soldiers must have been enlisted to fight on ships. That would make them not Marines, per se, but ad pugnatores.

Two questions to start:

1. If LXF was a land unit, and I believe it was at the start, were members of the legion permanently assigned to sea duty, or would they have returned to their land unit after the battle in question? LXF was evidently stationed in Eastern Sicily for a while. Was the battle fought in the straits between Sicily and Italy?

2. Would the units as they were assigned be given a vexillation banner that included the name of the vessel on which they were serving? Is there any record of the names of any of the ships they would have been on at that time?


There is good evidence that not too long after that, the Tenth Fretensis was assigned to Syria, and was among the troops which later sacked Jerusalem, then Masada. But reportedly, tiles were found in northern Brittania with LXF stamped in them. That might mean that at least a vexillation was sent to Brittania, presumably to help out with one thing or another. Thoughts, anyone?

How were Marines and longer-term ad pugnatorem units named?
It's an interesting question. 'Fretensis' is usually assumed to refer to the straits of Messina, but there were other freta in the Roman world... the legion used the image of a ship on some of its brick stamps, and of Neptune, I think, on a monument, so some sort of maritime connection seems probable. But Marcus Antonius had a legion called 'Classica' ('of the fleet'?), so Fretensis might refer to something more specific, perhaps, than just general marine service, or being raised from sailors.

Quote:Was the battle fought in the straits between Sicily and Italy?

Not exactly, I don't think, but there was one in that vicinity - when Octavian tried to land his army on the coast near Taormina. But this was a victory for Sextus Pompeius, and Octavian's men were only saved by his legate L. Cornificius marching them overland across the burnt plains of Etna. The big victories - Mylae and Naulochus - were fought off the north-east coast. If the legion's name refers to this campaign, wouldn't some connection with the more famous victories be more appropriate?

Quote:There is good evidence that not too long after that, the Tenth Fretensis was assigned to Syria, and was among the troops which later sacked Jerusalem, then Masada.

They are attested in Judea from the late first century BC I believe - and nowhere else before that...

Quote:But reportedly, tiles were found in northern Brittania with LXF stamped in them.

Never heard of this one! What was the report?

A quick check (on Wikipedia, bah!) of 'fretum' suggests that the noun in the second declension can refer to just 'the sea' or 'turmoil'. Latinists might be able to pass judgement on this interpretation... Could the name simply mean 'the legion of the (stormy?) sea', with no implied connection to Sicily?

- Nathan
fretum -i n. [a strait , sound, estuary, firth, channel]; 'fretum Siciliae, fretum Siciliense', or 'fretum', [the Straits of Messina]; [the sea in gen.], usually plur.; fig., [disturbance, turmoil].

fretus (1) -a -um [relying on , confiding in], with abl. (Just left in for info really!)

fretus (2) -us m. [a strait; an interval , difference].


Could conceivably have meant just the sea in general as the name fretensis was awarded to the Xth after the battle of Naulochus which is between Mylae and the promentory on the north east shore of the island whereas the straits of Messina (or Fretum Siculum) are therefore south of Naulochus on the other side of the island. (Not by far, admittedly - see the map).



http://0.tqn.com/d/ancienthistory/1/0/Y/y/2/Sicily.jpg
Quote:the name fretensis was awarded to the Xth after the battle of Naulochus

That's Mommsen's conjecture - there's no source for it. And, as you say, Naulochus isn't actually in the strait of Messina!

Thanks for the latin! (currently invisible smiley icon)
Quote:That would make them not Marines, per se, but ad pugnatores.
What makes you think there's an official distinction to begin with?

As to your first question, war with Sextus Pompeius seems as likely as any for Fretensis' nickname by simple elimination. There may be other meanings for the word, but as mentioned, naval symbols (prows, ships, dolphins) occur much more often in connection with this legion than any other. In other words, a naval origin for the name is very likely. As far as we know, the only other option is the Actium campaign, but the bay of Actium is hardly a channel and the symbols connected to that battle are different (Apollo mostly). I'm also not aware of any other legion having a particular connection to Actium. So, lacking other options, Sicily is the most likely. The campaign included a series of battles, mostly on the northern and eastern side of the island. I wouldn't take the Fretum Siculum too litterally, geographically speaking.

The answer to your second question is: dunno! The evidence for operations on that level is completely lacking.

LXF tiles in Britannia? Where'd you get that? In the Clauss database, I can find a single inscription of a (former) centurio of the legion who was placed in command of an auxiliary unit, but that's the extent of it.

There were several legiones classicae (XVII, XXX, XXXXI) which suggests assignment to the fleet, however, it also seems they only existed for the Actium campaign and perhaps the decade before. It's attractive to think that XVII Classica was enrolled into the Augustan army as the 17th legion which was destroyed at the Teutoburg Forest, but there's no evidence for that conjecture.
Quote:
Vindex post=288088 Wrote:the name fretensis was awarded to the Xth after the battle of Naulochus

That's Mommsen's conjecture - there's no source for it. And, as you say, Naulochus isn't actually in the strait of Messina!

Thanks for the latin! (currently invisible smiley icon)

Hmm...is it really? Wondered where I got it from (would be a smiley...)

It was one of these very long under graduate discussions/rants we had and looking at tide tables etc etc...there is a strait between the slight promentory to the west of Naulochus and the other promentory which is the north eastern tip of the island and I think we concluded that the tides and sea room would be much more capable of "holding" the battle than the straights of Messina themselves.

Or am I still regurgitating Momsen? (will go and lie down in a darkened room if that's the case!)
Quote:fretus (1) -a -um [relying on , confiding in], with abl. (Just left in for info really!)

What about this one? Wouldn't fretensis in this case mean "to be confided" or "to be relied on"? (I don't know what way to put it in english) Sounds like the "Fidelis" title.

But in my latin dictionary, "fretensis" (as such) is also translated: "of the strait".
Quote:
Vindex post=288088 Wrote:fretus (1) -a -um [relying on , confiding in], with abl. (Just left in for info really!)

What about this one? Wouldn't fretensis in this case mean "to be confided" or "to be relied on"? (I don't know what way to put it in english) Sounds like the "Fidelis" title.

According to the O.L.D. (pp 609) the adjectival suffix -ensis forms adjectives from words denoting places (c.f. castrensis) or place names (c.f. Narbonensis). Fretensis denotes a connotation with some sea, or strait.
It's generally recognized that Fretensis in the context of Legion X had to do with a naval action at one strait or another, most likely the Strait of Messana between Italy and Sicily, as previously mentioned. But Naulochus is just around the corner from the strait, so that sea battle could still have been the event that caused the cognomen to be added. Perhaps the Tenth was tasked with guarding the strait, but the battle developed nearby, and they rose to the occasion?

@Jasper re: tile in Brittania...I've heard this a few times, and presumed it to be true. Checking with those who've told me that for references. Will produce citations if found, or admit I was fooled by anecdotal statements. The entire legion would not necessarily have had to be sent to a location for them to make tiles for floors, so, perhaps, a cohort or two could have been sent most anywhere (especially if fairly early, but LXF was moved East around 6-8AD, and would be an unlikely candidate for Brittanic service...many other legions were closer) Also, a citation is supposed to be on the way from Red Millis that should show the difference between enlisted Marines, and soldiers used as ad hoc marines.
There is a work called, "Legio storia dei soledati di Roma" by Anna Maria Liberati in Italian. She is the curator and director of the Musio Della Civilta Romano. I do not have it, but Philius Estus does. He tells me there is a mention of a Brittanic period for the Legion.
There could be a slim possibility that a vexillation of Legio X Fretensis might have been to Britain (or as near as Brittany). After all Legio III Cyrenaica - based in Egypt at the time - appears to have provided a vexillation to guard the continental side of the ports used during Claudius' invasion of Britain in 43 AD. A votive dedication by one of its centurions was found. That legion, otherwise, also remained in the East for the duration of its existence. It is the archaeology that provided the information, not the written record.
Frankly, I don't think the entire legion would have gone willingly to Britain. It was the rumor that the Eastern Legions would be sent to the West and North (cold, wet, etc.), with Vitellius' Rhine Legions taking their places in the East (with its mild climate) that spurred those Eastern Legions to support Vespasian's bid for power. Legio X Fretensis was one of them and with Vespasian in the Jewish War.
It's a long boat ride from Caesarea to Londinium.
Did Roman marines use the motto, "semper fidelis," or did they prefer to use some old, dead language?
Where John Mcdermott has mentioned about Senora Liberati and her book all in Italian, I must ask our Italian friends for some help with a translation on a point.
It is where she mentions the dates of 208--211 by saying "con distaccamenti, si spinse fino in Britannia ove simisuro contro i Caledoni," sospendendo le operationi solo alla morte di Settimio Severo, avvenuta ad Eboracum ( York )

I can work out in the latter part that she is saying that Operations were suspended due to the death of Septimius Severus at York, it is the other part that needs a translation.
@JMR Yes. :twisted:

@PhilusEstilus is this mention in the 3rd Century AD concerning Legion X Fretensis? There is a story that there have been floor tiles found in Brittania bearing the LXF stamp. Do you know if that's true?
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