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Anyone having good sources of history of this legion ? Haven't had so good luck with it. Books or online sources, both do.


Mika S.
A History of Legio XXI

It is not entirely known when Octavian ordered the formation of Legio XXI, although most sources say it was likely founded in the year 31BCE. The circumstances behind the formation of Legio XXI are unclear. One possibility is that it was formed before Octavian's campaign against Marc Antony and Cleopatra. The second possibility is that it was formed shortly after the Battle of Actium from troops that had turned over to Octavian after the close of that battle.

Octavian returns command of the Legio's to the Senate in the year 27 BCE, however, three days later, the Senate confers on Octavian great powers and the title "Augustus". Shortly thereafter, many of the 60 Legions remaining at the end of the civil wars are disbanded leaving only 28 Legions, including Legio XXI.

In the year 25 BCE, Legio XXI was sent to Hispania Tarraconensis, where it took part in Imperator Augustus's campaigns against the Cantabrians. How long it stayed in Hispania is uncertain, as strong evidence suggests Legio XXI moved to the newly formed province of Raetia (modern Tyrol, Bavaria, and Switzerland) shortly after it was subdued in the year 15 BCE. Three years later, Legio XXI would find itself actively involved with the campaigns in Germania. Amazing marches, fighting in mire and forests and even amphibious assaults were a large part of the campaigns that Legio XXI participated in. But soon, the end to the campaign in Germania was to come to a close.

In what was planned to be the largest Roman military operation in history, Legio XXI, and eleven other legions (VIII Augusta, XV Apollinaris, XX Valeria Victrix, XIII Gemina, XIV Gemina, XVI Gallica, I Germanica, V Alaudae, Legio XVII, Legio XVIII and Legio XIX) combined with several other unnamed military units led by Tiberius were to move against King Marbod of the Marcomanni in the year 6 BCE. It was hoped that this offensive would bring an end to the resistance of the barbarians in Germania. However, this was not to be... A rebellion in Pannonia diverted Tiberius and nearly all of the gathered Legions away from Germania for the next three years, which didn't just delay the plan against the barbarians, but could have nearly brought about the fall of the empire.

It was believed that by the year 9 the people of Germania had been subdued, but the Legio's on the frontier still stood ready. So when the report of a barbarian uprising reached the Governor, Publius Quintilius Varus, he was encouraged by his ally and Chieftain of the Cherusci, Arminius to suppress without haste. Varus however did not know that Arminius was a traitor and that his Legio's the XVII, XVIII and XIX, were walking into an ambush. Needless to say Verus's army marched into Saltus Teutoburgiensis (Teutoburg Forest), and all three Legions were annihilated.

After the "Varian" disaster Legio XXI was redeployed to Germania Inferior and in the year 16 participated in a campaign led by Germanicus to exact revenge against the Cheruscan people. Legio XXI distinguished itself in this campaign and it is thought this is where it earned its name of Rapax (Raptor, or Predator). It is also believed that Legio XXI were among the first Romans to return to Saltus Teutoburgiensis and discovered what had happened to their comrades in the XVII, XVIII and XIX.

Shortly after the conclusion of this campaign, Legio XXI moved to a new camp at Xanten which it shard with V Alaudae. Legio XXI Rapax was to stay here for nearly 30 years before moving to Vindonissa in the year 46.

Vindonissa was occupied from 46 to 69 by the Legio and two auxiliary cohorts, first the III Hispanorum and VI Raetorum, and later the VII Raetorum equitata and the XXVI voluntariorum civium Romanorum.

Politics were to play the next movement of the Legio as it supported Vitellius, the commander of the army of Germania Inferior in the civil wars that followed the suicide of Emperor Nero. Legio XXI Rapax was part of 40,000 Roman soldiers loyal to Vitellius that marched on Rome and were victorious. By the end of the year however, Vespasian had defeated Vitellius. Vespasian, learning that Germania was being overrun by a Batavian uprising, ordered his relative (Quintus Petillius Cerialis) to form an army to reclaim the forts along the Rhine. This army included Legio XXI Rapax.

Once the uprising had been quelled, Legio XXI was ordered to Bonna in Germania Inferior to rebuild the camp that had been destroyed by rampaging Batavians. Using locally quarried stones, this was finished in nine years. The Legio was sent to Mogontiacum in Germania Superior in the year 83.

In 89, the governor of Germania Superior, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, revolted against the lawful emperor Domitian. XXI Rapax and XIV Gemina supported him. The resurrection came to nothing and the two units were separated – with Legio XXI being sent to Pannonia.

It was here in the year 92, alone and heavily outnumbered by an army of Dacians and Sarmatians that the 123 year tradition of Legio XXI Rapax came to an end.

One year later Legio XIV Gemina was transferred to Pannonia to replace the fallen Rapax.

Legio XXI Rapax's legionary symbol is the Capricorn.

Written by Marcus Darius Ursus ... io_xxi.htm
Thanks, just the overview I needed. 8)
Quote:The Legio was sent to Mogontiacum in Germania Superior in the year 83. In 89, the governor of Germania Superior, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, revolted against the lawful emperor Domitian. XXI Rapax and XIV Gemina supported him. The resurrection came to nothing and the two units were separated – with Legio XXI being sent to Pannonia.
AD 83 was certainly a critical year. Domitian probably raised legion I Minervia in that year and seems to have located its HQ at Bonna. (Dio 55.24.3 only locates it in Germania inferior, but ILS 2279 is the tombstone of a serving custos armorum from Bonn.) This would certainly have the effect of displacing XXI Rapax's HQ. But where did it go?

Upper Germany, apparently. It is listed along with the other 4 legions of Upper Germany on tile stamps from Mirebeau (ILS 2285). But Mirebeau was most likely VIII Augusta's HQ (AE 1973,359). Of the other legions, XI Claudia lay Vindonissa, and I Adiutrix was sharing Mogontiacum with XIV Gemina.

Where can we put XXI Rapax? (Is Strassburg an option?)

[amazon]Parker, Roman Legions[/amazon], suggested that I Adiutrix was withdrawn from Upper Germany to the Danube in AD 86/88; presumably this was to make room for XXI Rapax at Mogontiacum, because he then writes (p. 153): "The two legions [at Mogontiacum] can be identified as XIV Gem. and XXI Rapax."

Certainly, it is usually assumed that the two legions compromised at Mogontiacum in AD 89 were XIV Gemina and XXI Rapax. But why?

I'm sure Ritterling had a (probably convoluted) theory, but I don't have access to RE just now.