Information on Leg. XIV  Martia Victrix


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Legio XIV Gemina  (Martia.Victrix)

Julius Caesar
(Musei Vaticani, Roma) Legio XIV Gemina: one of the Roman legions. Its name means 'the twin legion'.
The fourteenth legion was perhaps recruited by the Roman general Julius Caesar in 57 BCE, during the war in Gaul, before he attacked the Belgians. Caesar implies the existence of a fourteenth legion in his account of the battle against the Nervians in the late summer of this year. Three-and-a-half years later this unit was destroyed by the Belgian Eburones, commanded by Ambiorix, in the first weeks of 53 (text). It was immediately reconstituted, and the soldiers of the new Fourteenth must have earned their spurs during the siege of Alesia (52).

During the civil war against Caesar's fellow-triumvir and rival Pompey the Great, the legion fought in Hispania in the battle of Ilerda (49). In the spring of 48, it crossed from Italy to Dyrrhachium (Dürres in modern Albania). It was almost certainly present in the battle of Pharsalus, where Caesar decisively beat Pompey. In late 48, the soldiers were sent back to Italy to be pensioned off, but in 46, they participated in Caesar's African campaign.

Another fourteenth legion is mentioned after 41; it was either a new creation (which explains why its emblem was a Capricorn, the sign of Octavian) or a reconstitution of the old legion. However this may be, it was used by Julius Caesar's heir Octavian, who had to put an end to Sextus Pompeius' occupation of Sicily, which put the grain supply of Rome into peril.

After Pompeius had been defeated by Octavian's general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 35, Octavian and his fellow-triumvir Mark Antony started a war, which culminated in the naval battle off Actium (31), where Octavian defeated his opponent and won the supremacy in the Mediterranean world. From now on, the world would know him as the emperor Augustus. The veterans of Actium were settled at Ateste in Italy.

The Fourteenth, which was reinforced with soldiers from the disbanded legions of Marc Antony and henceforth known as 'the twin legion', was sent to Illyricum. A very brief stay in Gallia Aquitania or Gallia Transpadana can not be excluded.

In 6 CE, Augustus' son-in-law Tiberius was to lead at least eight legions (VIII Augusta  from Pannonia, XV Apollinaris, XIV Gemina and XX Valeria Victrix from Illyricum, XXI Rapax from Raetia, XIII Gemina and XVI Gallica from Germania Superior and an unknown unit) against king Maroboduus of the Marcomanni in Czechia; at the same time, I Germanica, V Alaudae, XVII, XVIII and XIX were to move against Czechia as well, attacking it along the Elbe. It was to be the most grandiose operation that was ever conducted by a Roman army, but a rebellion in Pannonia obstructed its execution. It took three years to suppress the revolt.
 

Tombstone of Gnaeus Musius,
standard bearer of XIV Gemina
(Landesmuseum, Mainz)
Then, the Romans were defeated and humiliated in the battle in the Teutoburg Forest (September 9 CE). During the reshuffling of the Roman forces after the disaster, the legion was transferred to Mainz in Germania Superior, where it shared a base with XVI Gallica.
The tomb of Gnaeus Musius dates from the first half of the first century. It shows the bearer of the standard (the 'eagle') of the fourteenth legion, who died at the age of 32 after 15 service years. In his right hand, he has the standard, in his left a shield that is decorated with lightning flashes. Numerous other tombstones attest to the legion's presence at Mainz and nearby Wiesbaden.



Julius Caesar