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Legio I Italica
#1
Salvete Omnes,

Fratre, Legio I Italica was raised by Nero in 66AD. It was a courageous legion and served till at least the 500's. At first in present day France, but most of it's career was spent in present day Bulgaria around the Danube. There is evidence that subunits of it helped build the Antonine Wall. My questions are...is there any fisical evidence that this legion actually served in Britain? If so, for how long? How much of this legion actually served there? Did they have an actual base/fort there? If so, where was it located? I've been researching this legion so any information in regards to it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Vale,
Thomas Guenther
Thomas Guenther
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#2
(05-24-2019, 08:45 PM)Purplest Wrote: There is evidence that subunits of it helped build the Antonine Wall.

As I'm sure you've already read, the only evidence is an altar from Old Kilpatrick fort, dedicated by Coh I Baetasiorum with their Prefect, ( C)ura (A)gente a centurion of I Italica. The Latin phrase means 'under the charge of' or perhaps 'directed by', and seems to appear when a legionary centurion is given temporary command of an auxiliary unit to perform some task.

In this case the task was probably building the wall or the fort, and the centurion Candidus would have been directing the construction work in some way. He would therfeore have been an engineering officer, rather than the leader of a legion detachment. Why such a man might have been sent all the way from Dacia to oversee this work is anyone's guess - perhaps he had distinguished himself in some engineering task before and come to the notice of his superiors? But there's not much reason to assume that any other members of Legio I Italica had travelled to Britain with him.
Nathan Ross
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#3
(05-25-2019, 10:49 AM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(05-24-2019, 08:45 PM)Purplest Wrote: There is evidence that subunits of it helped build the Antonine Wall.

As I'm sure you've already read, the only evidence is an altar from Old Kilpatrick fort, dedicated by Coh I Baetasiorum with their Prefect, ©ura (A)gente a centurion of I Italica. The Latin phrase means 'under the charge of' or perhaps 'directed by', and seems to appear when a legionary centurion is given temporary command of an auxiliary unit to perform some task.

In this case the task was probably building the wall or the fort, and the centurion Candidus would have been directing the construction work in some way. He would therfeore have been an engineering officer, rather than the leader of a legion detachment. Why such a man might have been sent all the way from Dacia to oversee this work is anyone's guess - perhaps he had distinguished himself in some engineering task before and come to the notice of his superiors? But there's not much reason to assume that any other members of Legio I Italica had travelled to Britain with him.

Mr. Ross,

Yes, I'm aware of the altar at Old Kirkpatrick Fort. But this appears to be the only evidence? And I agree with you, as I've wondered myself, why they would send a Centurion and subunits from this legio all the way from Dacia to north Britain? You would've thought that they would have sent units from a lot closer legions. Do you think they could've possibly have chose them because their region was more stable after Trajan conquered that territory some 35 years before? Therefore they wouldn't have necessarily needed the manpower there? I think the subunits sent to Britain would probably have been there for quite some time in order to build the Antonine Wall. I just guessing here...

Thanks,
Thomas
Thomas Guenther
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#4
(05-25-2019, 12:09 PM)Purplest Wrote: why they would send a Centurion and subunits from this legio all the way from Dacia to north Britain?

Centurions were often detached from their legions and sent on special assignments elsewhere - they didn't necessarily take any men with them.

In this case we would need a building inscription or something left by the men of I Italica itself to prove that elements of the legion were in Britain. Otherwise it looks like Candidus was there by himself!

Two Antonine governors of Britain, Papirius Aelianus and Statius Priscus, had previously governed Dacia; it's plausible that centurion Candidus might have come to their attention during that earlier command, and his skills in engineering or construction supervision later led to his brief transfer to Britain. It was presumably intended to be temporary, as otherwise he would probably have been appointed centurion of one of the legions based in Britain itself.
Nathan Ross
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#5
(05-25-2019, 01:04 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(05-25-2019, 12:09 PM)Purplest Wrote: why they would send a Centurion and subunits from this legio all the way from Dacia to north Britain?

Centurions were often detached from their legions and sent on special assignments elsewhere - they didn't necessarily take any men with them.

In this case we would need a building inscription or something left by the men of I Italica itself to prove that elements of the legion were in Britain. Otherwise it looks like Candidus was there by himself!

Two Antonine governors of Britain, Papirius Aelianus and Statius Priscus, had previously governed Dacia; it's plausible that centurion Candidus might have come to their attention during that earlier command, and his skills in engineering or construction supervision later led to his brief transfer to Britain. It was presumably intended to be temporary, as otherwise he would probably have been appointed centurion of one of the legions based in Britain itself.

Mr. Ross,

What you say makes a lot of sense. As along Hadrian's Wall there are a number of inscriptions left by the legions which built it. But Hadrian's Wall was actually a wall with forts, etc. and wasn't the Antonine Wall mostly earth works? There may not have been as many places to leave inscriptions by the legions. In the light of this there probably isn't as much physical evidence to be found compared to Hadrian's Wall. Also, the Antonine Wall wasn't used but for about 20 years before it was abandoned. 

Cheers,
Thomas
Thomas Guenther
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#6
(05-25-2019, 03:15 PM)Purplest Wrote: wasn't the Antonine Wall mostly earth works? There may not have been as many places to leave inscriptions by the legions.

True enough. Although, as you say, we do have distance slabs recording the construction work, which name the three British legions, I think exclusively.

But without anything else to go on, we can't say for certain that detachments of other legions were not involved.
Nathan Ross
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#7
(05-25-2019, 04:44 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(05-25-2019, 03:15 PM)Purplest Wrote: wasn't the Antonine Wall mostly earth works? There may not have been as many places to leave inscriptions by the legions.

True enough. Although, as you say, we do have distance slabs recording the construction work, which name the three British legions, I think exclusively.

But without anything else to go on, we can't say for certain that detachments of other legions were not involved.

Thank you for all your input. Would you know of any good sources of information on this legion?

Cheers,
Thomas
Thomas Guenther
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#8
(05-26-2019, 11:36 AM)Purplest Wrote: Would you know of any good sources of information on this legion?

M. Absil, "Legio I Italica", in: Les légions de Rome sous le haut-empire. Actes du congrès de Lyon (17 - 19 Septembre 1998) rassemblés et édités par Yann Le Bohec avec la collaboration de Catherine Wolff. Vol. I (Lyon & Paris, 2000), pp. 227-238.

If you need a copy, PM me with your email address.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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#9
(05-28-2019, 09:00 AM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(05-26-2019, 11:36 AM)Purplest Wrote: Would you know of any good sources of information on this legion?

M. Absil, "Legio I Italica", in: Les légions de Rome sous le haut-empire. Actes du congrès de Lyon (17 - 19 Septembre 1998) rassemblés et édités par Yann Le Bohec avec la collaboration de Catherine Wolff. Vol. I (Lyon & Paris, 2000), pp. 227-238.

If you need a copy, PM me with your email address.

Mr. Campbell,

Thanks for you input and help. I sent you a PM with my email address. 

Cheers,
Thomas
Thomas Guenther
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#10
Fratres,
There is so much information on some Legions. Why is there so little on others? To me its sad that some of the valiant Legions in the Roman army are basically forgotten...
Vale,
Thomas
Thomas Guenther
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#11
It is, however, somewhere round about 2,000 years......
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#12
(06-25-2019, 09:59 PM)Mark Hygate Wrote: It is, however, somewhere round about 2,000 years......

This is so true. But it seems that in some places there are more discoveries of Roman forts, bases, villas, walls, etc. Therefore, based on where a legion was stationed there is more information on some than on others. Like there seems to be more information on II Augusta (based most of its service career in Britain) than on I Italica (Based in Bulgaria on the Danube). Most all of the legions served valiantly and honorably, but now days it seems that some legions are more popular while others are not.
Thanks for your input.

Thomas
Thomas Guenther
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