Legio I Minervia
Domitian (Museo Arqueológico, Sevilla) Legio I Minervia: one of the Roman legions. Its name signifies that it received special protection form the goddess Minerva.
According to the Greco-Roman historian Cassius Dio, the First legion Minervia was founded by the emperor Domitian. Year and month are unknown, but 82 is very likely, because in the next spring, Domitian launched a full-scale war against the Germanic Chatti. Although there is no evidence to support this hypothesis, it is very tempting to connect the recruitment of this legion with the transfer of XXI Rapax from Bonna (modern Bonn) to Mogontiacum (Mainz) in 83.
The new legion was stationed in Bonn in the province of Germania Inferior, a day's march south of the capital of Germania Inferior, Cologne. The legion's full name seems to have been I Flavia Minervia: Flavia being the family name of Domitian, Minerva being his favorite deity. According to coins from the third century, the emblem was a statue of this warrior goddess. Another emblem was the Ram, the sign of the zodiac that is ruled by Minerva.
Inscription of the Leg[io]
I M[inervia] P[ia] F[idelis]
from Meinerswijk (©!!!)
Soon after its foundation, it received a new name. In 89 the governor of Germania Superior, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, revolted, and the army of Germania Inferior (I Minervia, VI Victrix, X Gemina, XXII Primigenia) hurried to the south, to Mainz, and defeated the rebel. Every legion was awarded the title Pia Fidelis Domitiana ('faithful and loyal to Domitian'). When this emperor was killed in 96, the last element of this honorific title was dropped, and the name Flavia as well. From now on, the legion's full name was I Minervia Pia Fidelis.
Tombstone of Gaius Julius
Maternus, veteran of
I Minervia. (Römisch-
Germanisches Museum, Köln)
During the reign of Trajan, it fought against the Dacians (101-106). One inscription suggests that it was part of a task force with VI Victrix and X Gemina from Neuss and Nijmegen. In the final years of the war, I Minervia was commanded by the future emperor Hadrian. The legion's emblem can be seen on the famous column of Trajan in Rome, the victory monument that was erected after Dacia had been conquered. The legion returned to the Rhine when the war was over, because its (anonymous) commander is known to have been in Germania Inferior in the year 112.
The Greek geographer Ptolemy of Alexandria makes an interesting remark in his description of the earth. He mentions "Bonn of the first Minervian legion". Like so many cities, Bonn had become an important civil settlement because of the presence of a large military unit. Other examples from this period are Léon in Hispania Tarraconensis, which is derived of the word "legion", and Xanten, which was simply called "the thirtieth", after XXX Ulpia Victrix.
EXGERINF on a brick stamp
XXX Ulpia Victrix, founded in 105 by the emperor Trajan, became I Minervia's twin legion. The two units often operated together. Inscriptions from the Dutch river area prove that they sometimes worked jointly at building projects, and several inscriptions simply mention "the army of Germania Inferior" (exercitus Germanicus Inferior, frequently abbreviated as EXGERINF).