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Legio V Macedonica

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Legio V Macedonica
Map of the Roman empire in AD 125, under emperor Hadrian, showing the LEGIO V MACEDONICA, stationed on the river Danube at Troesmis (Romania), in Moesia Inferior province, from AD 107 to 161
Active43 BC to sometime in the 7th century
CountryRoman Republic, Roman Empire, East Roman Empire
TypeRoman legion (Marian)
later a comitatensis unit
RoleInfantry assault (some cavalry support)
SizeVaried over unit lifetime. 5,000–6,000 men during Principate
Garrison/HQMacedonia (30 BC–6)
Oescus, Moesia (6–62)
Oescus (71–101)
Troesmis, Dacia (107–161)
Potaissa, Dacia Porolissensis (166–274)
Oescus (274–5th century)
Nickname(s)possibly Urbana and/or Gallica (before 31 BC)
Macedonica, "Macedonia" (since AD 6)
Pia Fidelis, "faithful and loyal", or Pia Constans, "faithful and reliable" (since 185–7)
Pia III Fidelis III (under Valerian)
Pia VII Fidelis VII (under Gallienus)
Mascot(s)Bull and eagle
EngagementsBattle of Actium (31 BC)
Corbulo Parthian campaign (63)
First Jewish-Roman War (66–70)
Trajan's Dacian Wars (101–106)
Verus Parthian campaign (161–166)
Muslim conquest of Egypt (639-646)
(unknown, evidence point towards the unit's presence during the conquest)
vexillationes of the 5th participated in many other campaigns.
This coin was issued by Roman emperor Gallienus to celebrate the V Macedonica, whose symbol, the eagle, is crowned of wrath by Victoria. The legend on the reverse says LEG V MAC VI P VI F, which means "Legio V Macedonica VI times faithful VI times loyal"
Sestertius minted in 247 by Philip the Arab to celebrate Dacia province and its legions, V Macedonica and XIII Gemina. Note the eagle and the lion, V's and XIII's symbols, in the reverse.

Legio V Macedonica (the Fifth Macedonian Legion) was a Roman legion. It was probably originally levied in 43 BC by consul Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus and Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as the Emperor Augustus). It was based in the Balkan provinces of Macedonia, Moesia and Dacia. In the Notitia Dignitatum records from beginning of the fifth century, the legion was still stationed in Dacia, with detachments stationed in the east and Egypt.

The last known evidence shows the legion, or detachments from it, stationed in Egypt in the seventh century one or two years before the Islamic conquest of Egypt. It is often assumed that the legion fought in this war and was destroyed, although it is uncertain whether detachments or the whole legion were in Egypt, and there is no further evidence of the legion's eventual fate.

Its symbol was the bull, but the eagle was used as well.



1st century BC: Creation and deployment in Macedonia


The Legio V was one of the original twenty-eight legions raised by Octavian. There are two other fifth legions recorded: the V Gallica and the V Urbana. It is possible that these both were early names for the V Macedonica. The legion probably participated in the Battle of Actium (31 BC). It later moved to Macedonia, where it stayed from 30 BC to AD 6,[citation needed] gaining its cognomen, before moving to Oescus (Moesia).

1st century: First Jewish–Roman War


It took part in the suppression of rebellion among the Thracians south of the Balkan Range during the establishment of the new province of Moesia in AD 45.

In 62, some vexillationes of the Fifth fought under Lucius Caesennius Paetus in the Nero's Parthian War in Armenia. After the defeat of the Battle of Rhandeia, the whole V Macedonica, together with III Gallica, VI Ferrata, and X Fretensis under the command of Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, was sent to the east to fight in the conclusion of the war.

The Fifth was probably still in the East when the First Jewish–Roman War in Iudaea Province began in 66. Nero gave the V Macedonica, the X Fretensis and the XV Apollinaris to Titus Flavius Vespasianus to counter the revolt. In 67, in Galilee, the city of Sepphoris surrendered peacefully to the Roman army, and later the V Macedonica conquered Mount Gerizim, the chief sanctuary of the Samaritans. In the Year of the Four Emperors, 68, the legion stayed inactive in Emmaus, where several tombstones of soldiers of the V Macedonica remain. After the proclamation of Vespasian as Emperor and the end of the war under his son Titus, the V Macedonica left Iudaea and returned to Oescus in 71. It took part in the first phase of Domitian's Dacian War in 85-86.[1]

In 96 emperor Hadrian served the legion as an officer (tribunus militum).

2nd century: In Dacia and Near East


In 101, the legion moved to Dacia, to fight in Emperor Trajan's campaign against the king Decebalus. After the war ended in 106, the legion was based in Troesmis (modern Iglita), near the Danube Delta. A centurion of the legion, Calventius Viator, rose to prominence and was eventually promoted to commander of the emperor's horse guards, the equites singulares Augusti.

Based on a Roman inscription discovered near Betar, Hadrian removed the V Macedonica from Dacia (present-day Romania) and sent it to Provincia Iudaea, or what is Judea, along with Legio XI Claudia,[2] in order to put down an insurrection that broke out in the 16th year of his reign as Roman Emperor, while Tineius (Tynius) Rufus was governor of the province,[3] and which later became known as the Jewish Revolt under Bar Kokhba.

Roman Inscription found near Battir mentioning the 5th and 11th Roman Legions

When Emperor Lucius Verus started his campaign against the Parthians (161–166), the legion moved to the east, but was returned to Dacia Porolissensis in 166 under Marcus Aurelius[4] with its basecamp in Potaissa to defend the Dacian provinces against the Marcomannic attacks and those of the Iazyges and the Quadi.

At the beginning of the reign of Commodus, the V Macedonica and the XIII Gemina once again defeated the Iazyges, under the later usurpers Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus. The Fifth later supported Septimius Severus, in his fight for the purple.

In 185 or 187, the legion was awarded of the title Pia Constans ("Faithful and reliable") or Pia Fidelis ("Faithful and loyal"), after defeating a mercenary army in Dacia.

Later centuries: Honors and evolution


While remaining at Potaissa for most of the 3rd century, V Macedonica fought several times, earning honors. Valerian gave the Fifth the name III Pia III Fidelis; his son, Gallienus gave the legion the title VII Pia VII Fidelis, with the 4th, 5th and 6th titles awarded probably when the legion was used as a mobile cavalry unit against usurpers Ingenuus and Regalianus (260, Moesia). A vexillatio fought against Victorinus (Gaul, 269–271).

The legion returned to Oescus in 274, after Aurelian had retired from Dacia. It guarded the province in later centuries, becoming a comitatensis unit under the Magister Militum per Orientis. It probably became part of the Byzantine army.

The cavalry unit created by Gallienus was definitively detached by Diocletian, and become part of his comitatus. This unit was sent to Mesopotamia, where it successfully fought against the Sassanid Empire in 296, and then to Memphis, where it remained until becoming part of the Byzantine army.

Legio V Macedonica is mentioned again in the Notitia Dignitatum, stationed in Dacia Ripensis, with detachments in the Oriental Field Army and in Egypt.[5]

Legio V Macedonica is again mentioned in both Antaeapolis and Heliopolis in inscriptions, which seem to have been detachments of the units in Memphis. The last inscription provides the date of 635 or 636, indicating that at least part of the Legion was in Egypt until just before the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs began in 637. This would make Legio V Macedonica the longest-lived Roman Legion known to history, spanning 680 years from 43 BC to 637 AD; the entire history of the Roman Empire in the Classical Era.[6]


Attested members

Name Rank Time frame Province Soldier located in Veteran located in Source
Atilius Verus [7] centurio before 62 Moesia ? ? AE 1912, 188 = ILB 52
M. Blossius Q. f. Aniensis Pudens [7] centurio 67–70 Moesia ? ? CIL VI, 3580 a, b = ILS 2641
Ti. Claudius T. f. Vitalis [7] centurio 81–85 Moesia ? ? CIL VI, 3584 = ILS 2656 = IPD 4 794 = IDRE I 3
M. Iulius V(o)ltinia [7] centurio between 85 and 95 Moesia Inferior ? ? CIL III, 7397
Resius Albanus [7] centurio reign of Tiberius? Moesia ? ? AE 1927, 51 = ILB 47
L. Lepidius L. f. An(iensi) Proculus [7] centurio 67–70 Italia Ariminum ? CIL III, 12411
Valerius Crispus [7] centurio between 71 and 101 Moesia Inferior ? ? E. Peeva, N. Sharankov, Archaeologia Bulgarica 10, 2006, 1, pp. 25–33, A-C
L. Valerius L. f. Proculus [7] centurio between 85 and 95 Moesia Inferior ? ? CIL III, 12411
Pollio [7] centurio 67–71 Moesia ? ? CIL III, 14155
Stiminius [7] centurio 67–71 Moesia ? ? CIL III, 14155
Lucius Artorius Castus centurio, primipilus before 185 Moesia Inferior ? Pituntium (Dalmatia) CIL III, 1919; CIL III, 14224
Annius Vinicianus [7] legatus legionis 63 Armenia ? ? Tacitus, Annales, XV.28
Sex. Vettulenus Cerialis[7] legatus legionis 67-70 Judea ? ? Flavius Josephus, BJ III, 7, 32; VI, 4, 3
Quintus Pompeius Falco legatus legionis c. 101-102 ? ? CIL III, 12117
Titus Calestrius Tiro Orbius Speratus legatus legionis between 105 and 110 Moesia Inferior ? ? AE 1965, 320
Marcus Cominius Secundus[8] legatus legionis c. 141 - c. 144 ? ?
Marcus Sedatius Severianus[8] legatus legionis c. 144 – c. 147 ? ? AE 1913, 55 = ILS 9487; AE 1933, 249
Quintus Caecilius Redditus[8] legatus legionis c. 152 ? ? AE 1957, 266
Aelius Optatus[8] legatus legionis c. 156 – c. 159 ? ? AE 1960, 337
Publius Vigellius Saturninus[8] legatus legionis c. 159 – c. 162 ? ? CIL III, 775 = CIL III, 6183 = ILS 1116
Publius Martius Verus[8] legatus legionis c. 162–166 Cappadocia ? ? CIL III, 6169
Marcus Valerius Maximianus[9] legatus legionis 180 ? ? AE 1956, 124
Tiberius Claudius Claudianus[10] legatus legionis between 194 and 196 ? ? CIL III, 905, CIL VIII, 5349
Domitius Antigonius[10] legatus legionis c. 222 ? ? AE 1966, 262
P(ublius) Oppiu[s]?[11] optio c. 69-c.70 Judea? ? Emmaus
L. Praecilius Clemens Iulianus [7] praefectus castrorum 36–43 Moesia ? ? CIL III, 8753
C. Baebius Atticus [7] primipilus reign of Claudius Moesia ? ? CIL V, 1838; 1839 = ILS 1349
T. Pontinius [7] primipilus reign of Claudius? Moesia ? ? CIL XI, 4368
L. Praecilius Clemens Iulianus [7] primipilus between 36 and 43 Moesia ? ? CIL III, 8753
[A]prenas Clemens [7] tribunus angusticlavius  ? Moesia Inferior ? ? CIL XI, 4119 (Narnia, Regio VI)
L. Clodius P. f. Cla(udia) Ingenuus [7] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Vespasian or Domitian Moesia ? ? CIL VI, 37274
C. Nonius C. f. Vel(ina) Flaccus [7] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Vespasian? Moesia ? ? AE 1975, 353
C. Set[tidius] C. f. Pup(inia) Fir[mus] [7] tribunus angusticlavius 67-70 Moesia ? ? PME, S 45 (Pola, Regio X)
T. Rutilius Varus [7] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Nero Moesia ? ? CIL X, 1258
M. Valerius M. f. Gal. Propinquus Grattius Cerealis [7] tribunus angusticlavius 84/85 Moesia ? ? CIL II, 4251 = ILS 2711
L. Volcacius Primus [7] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Claudius or Nero Moesia ? ? CIL IX, 5363 = ILS 2737
Marcus Opsius Navius Fannianus[12] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Tiberius ? ? ? IG XIV.719 (IGR I.431); Tacitus, Annales IV.68, 71
Ignotus [7] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Claudius Moesia ? ? CIL X, 6442, PME, Inc 183
Ignotus [7] tribunus angusticlavius reign of Claudius or Nero Moesia ? ? CIL XI, 4789, Spoletium, Regio VI, PME, Inc 204
C. Iulius Montanus [7] tribunus laticlavius before 56 Moesia ? ? CIL XI, 5884 = ILS 978; after Tacitus, Annales XIII, 25
Titus Junius Montanus[7] tribunus laticlavius reign of Nero Moesia ? ? AE 1973, 500
Publius Aelius Hadrianus tribunus laticlavius c. 95 Historia Augusta, "Hadrian", 3
Marcus Acilius Priscus Egrilius Plarianus tribunus laticlavius after 95 CIL XIV, 155; CIL XIV, 4442; CIL XIV, 4444
Publius Cluvius Maximus Paullinus tribunus laticlavius before 127 AE 1940, 99
Gaius Javolenus Calvinus tribunus laticlavius before 138 CIL XIV, 2499 = ILS 1060
Gaius Julius Septimius Castinus tribunus laticlavius late 2nd century CIL III, 10473
Q. Cornelius M. f. Gal(eria tribu) Valerianus [7] praefectus vexillationum reign of Claudius Thracia ? ? CIL II, 3272; after CIL II, 2079 = ILS 2713
M. Clodius M. f. Fab(ia tribu) Ma[...] [7] praefectus vexillationum prior 56/57 Italia Brixia ? CIL V, 4326

See also



  • livius.org account Archived 2014-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  • E. Ritterling, "Legio", RE XII, col. 1572-5
  • Rumen Ivanov, "Lixa Legionis V Macedonicae aus Oescus", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 80, 1990, p. 131-136
  • D. Barag, S. Qedar, "A Countermark of the Legio Quinta Scytica from the Jewish War", INJ 13 (1994–1999), pp. 66–69.
  • S. Gerson, "A New Countermark of the Fifth Legion", INR 1 (2006), pp. 97–100
  • Dr. Gerson, "A Coin Countermarked by Two Roman Legions", Israel Numismatic Journal 16, 2007–08, pp. 100–102
  • P. M. Séjourné, "Nouvelles de Jérusalem", RB 6, 1897, p. 131
  • E. Michon, "Inscription d'Amwas", RB 7, 1898, p. 269–271
  • J. H. Landau, "Two Inscribed Tombstones", Atiqot, vol. XI, Jerusalem, 1976


  1. ^ ILIAN BOYANOV, Oescus - from castra to colonia. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297565828_Oescus_-_from_castra_to_colonia [accessed Apr 03 2021]
  2. ^ C. Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches in Palestine during the Years 1873-74, London 1899, pp. 463-470.
  3. ^ Yigael Yadin, Bar-Kokhba, Random House New York 1971, p. 258.
  4. ^ Kovács, Péter (2009). Marcus Aurelius' rain miracle and the Marcomannic wars. Brill. p 207
  5. ^ Notitia Dignitatum In Partibus Occidentis
  6. ^ Ross Cowan, The Longest Lived Legion, Ancient Warfare
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Matei-Popescu, Florian (2010). "The Roman Army in Moesia Inferior". STRATEG Project - PNCDI II. Conphys Publishing House. p. 325. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Géza Alföldy, Konsulat und Senatorenstand unter den Antoninen (Bonn: Habelt Verlag, 1977), p. 299
  9. ^ Paul M. M. Leunissen, Konsuln und Konsulare in der Zeit von Commodus bis Severus Alexander (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1989), p. 339
  10. ^ a b Leunissen, Konsuln und Konsulare, p. 340
  11. ^ 22952 Grabstele des Publius Oppius ...cio
  12. ^ Bernard Rémy, Les carrières sénatoriales dans les provinces romaines d'Anatolie au Haut-Empire (31 av. J.-C. - 284 ap. J.-C.) (Istanbul: Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes-Georges Dumézil, 1989), p. 79