Legio VI Ferrata

Legio VI Ferrata

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Legio sexta Ferrata was a Roman Legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

 formed in 65 BC, and in existence up to at least 3rd century. A Legio VI fought in the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

an civil wars
Roman civil wars
There were several Roman civil wars, especially during the late Republic. The most famous of these are the war in the 40s BC between Julius Caesar and the optimate faction of the senatorial elite initially led by Pompey and the subsequent war between Caesar's successors, Octavian and Mark Antony in...

 of the 40s and 30s BC. Sent to garrison the province of Judaea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

, it remained there for the next two centuries.

The Legion was also known as Fidelis Constans, meaning "Firmly Loyal" It is unclear when this title was given, but several sources indicate that it may have been in the 1st century AD. The symbol for Legio VI Ferrata was the bull. It also carried the symbolic she-wolf with Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus are Rome's twin founders in its traditional foundation myth, although the former is sometimes said to be the sole founder...

.

Under Caesar


Later seeing action at battle of Pharsalus
Battle of Pharsalus
The Battle of Pharsalus was a decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. On 9 August 48 BC at Pharsalus in central Greece, Gaius Julius Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the republic under the command of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus...

 in 48 BC, Julius Caesar took the 6th to Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 to settle the dispute in Egypt with Cleopatra. Alexandria was besieged
Siege of Alexandria (47 BC)
The Siege of Alexandria was a series of skirmishes and battles occurring between the forces of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy XIII between 48 and 47 BC...

, and the 6th was suffered many casualties, losing almost two-thirds of its strength. Caesar eventually triumphed when reinforcements under Mithridates of Pergamum
Mithridates I of the Bosporus
Mithridates I of the Bosporus sometimes known as Mithridates II of the Bosporan and Mithridates of Pergamon , was a nobleman from Anatolia. Mithridates was one of the sons born to King Mithridates VI of Pontus from his mistress, the Galatian Celtic Princess Adobogiona. He also had a full blooded...

 arrived.

Caesar took his "Veteran Sixth Legion" with him to Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

 and Pontus
Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

.
"When Caesar reached Pontus he gathered all his forces together in one spot. They were modest in number and experience of war, with the exception of the veteran Sixth Legion, which he had brought with him from Alexandria; but this had gone through such toil and danger and been so reduced in size, in part by the difficulties of the marches and voyages, and in part by the frequency of campaigning, that it contained less than a thousand men..."


The Legion served in Pontus under Caesar in 48 and 47 BC. This culminated in the battle of Zela
Battle of Zela
The Battle of Zela was a battle fought in 47 BC between Julius Caesar and Pharnaces II of The Kingdom of Pontus.-Prelude:After the defeat of the Ptolemaic forces at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar left Egypt and travelled through Syria, Cilicia and Cappadocia to fight Pharnaces, son of Mithridates...

 where victory was won by Legio VI.
"The origin of our victory lay in the bitter and intense hand-to-hand battle joined on the right wing, where the veteran Sixth Legion was stationed".

"Caesar was quite overjoyed at such a victory, although he had been victorious in many battles. He had brought a major war to an astonishingly rapid end... He ordered the Sixth Legion back to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 to receive their rewards and honors..."


During Caesar's African war against Scipio
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica , in modern scholarship often as Metellus Scipio, was a Roman consul and military commander in the Late Republic. During the civil war between Julius Caesar and the senatorial faction led by Pompeius Magnus , he remained a staunch optimate...

 in 46 BC, the Sixth Legion deserted en masse from Scipio to reinforce Caesar and fought under him.

Under Mark Antony


The legion was disbanded in 45 BC after the battle of Munda
Battle of Munda
The Battle of Munda took place on March 17, 45 BC in the plains of Munda, modern southern Spain. This was the last battle of Julius Caesar's civil war against the republican armies of the Optimate leaders...

, establishing a colony
Colonia (Roman)
A Roman colonia was originally a Roman outpost established in conquered territory to secure it. Eventually, however, the term came to denote the highest status of Roman city.-History:...

 at Arelate (Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

), but was re-formed by Lepidus
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (triumvir)
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus , was a Roman patrician who rose to become a member of the Second Triumvirate and Pontifex Maximus. His father, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, had been involved in a rebellion against the Roman Republic.Lepidus was among Julius Caesar's greatest supporters...

 the following year (44 BC) and was handed over to Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 the year after. Following the defeat of the republican generals Cassius
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus was a Roman senator, a leading instigator of the plot to kill Julius Caesar, and the brother in-law of Marcus Junius Brutus.-Early life:...

 and Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus , often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name...

 in successive battles at Philippi
Battle of Philippi
The Battle of Philippi was the final battle in the Wars of the Second Triumvirate between the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian and the forces of Julius Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC, at Philippi in Macedonia...

 in 42 BC and the subsequent division of control between Mark Antony and Caesar's nephew and heir Octavian
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, a colony was again formed from retired veterans at Beneventum
Benevento
Benevento is a town and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 m above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino and Sabato...

 in 41 BC, and the remainder of Legio VI Ferrata was taken by Mark Antony to the East where it garrisoned Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Two legions under Mark Antony and Octavian


Another Sixth Legion, Legio VI Victrix
Legio VI Victrix
Legio sexta Victrix was a Roman legion founded by Octavian in 41 BC. It was the twin legion of VI Ferrata and perhaps held veterans of that legion, and some soldiers kept to the traditions of the Caesarian legion....

, evidently saw action at Perusia
Perusia
The ancient Perusia, now Perugia, first appears in history as one of the 12 confederate cities of Etruria. It is first mentioned in the account of the war of 310 or 309 BC between the Etruscans and the Romans...

 in 41 BC, which presents us with a problem because the official Legio VI Ferrata was at that moment with Mark Antony in the East;
"Octavian
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 did not hesitate to duplicate legionary numerals already in use by Antony. The latter had serving with him Legio V Alaudae
Legio V Alaudae
Legio quinta Alaudae sometimes known as Gallica, was levied by Julius Caesar in 52 BC from native Gauls. Their emblem was an elephant, and their cognomen Alaudae came from the high crest on their helmets, typical of the Gauls, which made them look like larks...

, Legio VI Ferrata and Legio X Equestris
Legio X Equestris
Legio X Equestris , a Roman legion, was levied by Julius Caesar in 61 BC when he was the Governor of Hispania Ulterior. The Tenth was the first legion levied personally by Caesar, and was consistently his most trusted...

. Soon we find Octavian's army boasting of a Legio V (the later Macedonica
Legio V Macedonica
Legio quinta Macedonica was a Roman legion. It was probably originally levied by consul Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus and Octavian in 43 BC, and it was stationed in Moesia at least until 5th century. Its symbol was the bull, but the eagle was used as well...

), Legio VI (the later Victrix) and Legio X (soon to be Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis was a Roman legion levied by Augustus Caesar in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic...

). Of these, Legio V and Legio X, and less certainly Legio VI, bore under the empire a bull-emblem which would normally indicate a foundation by Caesar; but the true Caesarian legions with these numerals (Alaudae, Ferrata and Equestris) were with Antony."


It would seem, therefore, that Octavian had used the veterans of Caesar's Sixth Legion, this time from those left at Beneventum, to form the core of his own Sixth Legion used at Perusia.

Later Legio VI Ferrata fought in Antony's Parthian War
Antony's Parthian War
Antony's Parthian War or the Roman-Parthian War of 40-33 BC was a major conflict, which followed the Battle of Carrhae, between the Roman Republic, represented in the East by the triumvir Mark Antony, and the Parthians...

 in 36 BC.

During the war between Antony and Octavian
Final war of the Roman Republic
The final war of the Roman Republic, also known as Antony's civil war or the war between Antony and Octavian, was the last of the Roman civil wars of the republic, fought between Cleopatra and Octavian...

 the Legio VI's Ferrata and Victrix found themselves on opposing sides at the Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium
The Battle of Actium was the decisive confrontation of the Final War of the Roman Republic. It was fought between the forces of Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the city of Actium, at the Roman...

 in 31 BC. Legio VI Ferrata was severely mauled by Octavian's forces. Following the battle, another colony of veterans seems to have been created at Byllis
Byllis
Byllis was an ancient city located in the region of Illyria. The remains of Byllis are situated north-east of Vlorë, 25 kilometers from the sea in Hekal, Mallakastër District, Albania....

 in Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern north Albania to Istria in the west and to the Sava river in the north. Salona functioned as its capital...

, probably together with soldiers from other legions, and the remainder of VI Ferrata was moved to Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

/Judea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 where it was to remain, while Legio VI Victrix was sent to Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

In Judea


From 54 AD to 68 AD the Sixth Legion Ferrata served under Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo
Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo
Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo was a Roman general and a brother-in-law of the emperor Caligula.-Descent:Corbulo was born in Italy into a senatorial family...

 at Artaxata
Artashat
Artashat , is a city on Araks River in the Ararat valley, 30 km southeast of Yerevan. Being one of the oldest cities of Armenia, Artashat is the capital of Ararat Province. Modern Artashat is situated on the Yerevan-Nakhichevan-Baku and Nakhichevan-Tabriz railway and on...

 and Tigranocerta
Tigranakert
Tigranakert was a city possibly located near present-day Silvan, Turkey, east of Diyarbakır. It was founded by the Armenian Emperor Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC. Tigranakert was founded as the new capital of the Armenian Empire in order to be in a more central position within the...

 against the Parthians. In 69 AD the Sixth Legion returned to Judea and fought in the Jewish War. As the War wound down, it was placed under the command of Mucianus
Mucianus
Gaius Licinius Mucianus was a general, statesman and writer of ancient Rome.His name shows that he had passed by adoption from the gens Mucia to the gens Licinia. He was sent by Claudius to Armenia with Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Under Nero he is recorded as suffect consul ca...

 and fought against Vitellius
Vitellius
Vitellius , was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed Emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

. The Legion was largely responsible for Mucianis' victory over the forces of Vitellius during the brief Civil War
Year of the Four Emperors
The Year of the Four Emperors was a year in the history of the Roman Empire, AD 69, in which four emperors ruled in a remarkable succession. These four emperors were Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian....

 following the death of Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

.

In 106 AD a vexillatio
Vexillatio
A vexillatio was a detachment of a Roman legion formed as a temporary task force created by the Roman Army of the Principate. It was named from the standards carried by legionary detachments, vexillum , which bore the emblem and name of the parent legion...

 of the legion participated at the final decisive battle against Dacia
Dacia
In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae as they were known by the Greeks—the branch of the Thracians north of the Haemus range...

 (seee battle of Sarmisegetusa
Battle of Sarmisegetusa
The Battle of Sarmisegetusa was a siege of Sarmizegetusa, the capital of Dacia, fought in 106 between the army of the Roman Emperor Trajan, and the Dacians led by King Decebalus.-Background:...

). The main legion can be placed at Bostra
Bosra
Bosra , also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria...

 in Nabatea
Nabataean kingdom
The Nabataean kingdom, also named Nabatea , was a political state of the Nabataeans which existed during Classical antiquity and was annexed by the Roman Empire in AD 106.-Geography:...

 under Aulus Cornelius Palma Frontonianus
Aulus Cornelius Palma Frontonianus
Aulus Cornelius Palma Frontonianus was a soldier and Roman statesman who came from Volsinii in Etruria.His first known post is that of praetorian legate in Asia sometime during Domitian's reign. He went on to command a Legion in the years 94-97 and became First Consul shortly after, in the year 99...

. In 138 AD the Legion was stationed in Judea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

, but was briefly sent to Africa
Africa Province
The Roman province of Africa was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day northern Tunisia, and the small Mediterranean coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor...

 during the reign of Antonius Pius. In 150 AD the Legion was once again in Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, and the last reference found to Legio VI Ferrata places them still there in 215 AD.

Legacy


The Legion's long sojourn in Judea left a lasting trace in the country's geography and culture, long past the end of the Legion itself and the Roman Empire in general, and up to the present. Being posted to guard the strategic pass at Meggido during the Bar Kokhba revolt, the place where it had its camp remained known throughout the centuries by the name "Lajun" (derived from "Legion"). In Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 times a Khan
Caravanserai
A caravanserai, or khan, also known as caravansary, caravansera, or caravansara in English was a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey...

erected in that location was known as "Khan al-Lajun", and a Palestinian village of that name existed there until the Palestinian-Israeli war of 1947-49, when it was depopulated. Kibbutz Megiddo was established near this strategic location in 1949. Former inhabitants of Lajun Village still conduct a kind of annual pilgrimage to its ruins and preserve the name for later generations born after the village was destroyed - though few remember the name's Roman origin.

A popular Russian song called "Eagle of the 6th Legion" is dedicated to the 6th Legion.

External links