|LEGIO VIII AUGUSTA|
|This is the official website for Legio VIII Augusta, a group dedicated to the recreation of a Roman Legion from the 1st century AD. Our venues include, high school lectures, The Tejeda History Faire and re-enactment events with our brother legionaires.
Membership is open to all those interested. For equipment standards, membership information, and scheduled events, contact Marcellus at the e-mail address on this page.
The following is a not so brief history of Legion VIII Augusta.
Legio VIII Augusta is one of the Roman legions. Its name means' the legion of Augustus', but contains a pun on 'august legion'. With the seventh, ninth and tenth legions,the Eighth was among the oldest units in the Roman army. They were with Julius Caesar when he invaded Gaul in 58 BCE. The Roman commander mentions the eighth legion in his accounts of the battle against the Nervians and the siege of Gergovia. It is possible that at some stage, Gallic warriors were accepted within the legion's ranks.An inscription mentions a Caius Cabilenus "from Gaul" During the civil war against Pompey, the Eighth saw action at Corfinium and Brindisi (49), and stayed in Apulia for some time. In the spring of 48, it served at Dyrrhachium. It was present at Pharsalus (9 August 48).
After this battle, the soldiers were sent back to Italy to be pensioned off, and received land in Campania. Although many veterans were now living on farms in 46,they participated in Caesar's African campaign.In 45,
these reenlisted soldiers received land at Casilinum.
In the autumn 44, however, many soldiers of the Eighth(and Seventh) were again reenlisted by Caesar's heir Octavian, who reconstituted this legion to obtain a position of influence.Early in 43,it fought at Modena against Marc Antony, and in 42,the soldiers fought against the murderers of Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, at Philippi. After the war at Philippi, Octavian fell out with Marc Antony's brother Lucius, who was besieged at Perugia. A sling stone mentioning a military tribune from the eighth legion attests to the unit's presence.
The Eighth must have been used in Octavian's struggle against Sextus Pompeius, who had occupied Sicily, but was expelled by Octavian's admiral Agrippa. It was probably also active in Octavian's second campaign against Marc Antony (Actium, 31 BCE), which culminated in Octavians sole rule.In those years, this unit was still called VIII Gallica. The surname Mutinensis was used only briefly. Veterans of the Actium war were settled at Forum Iulii (modern Fréjus in France), which was sometimes called after the legion,Colonia octavorum.Now that Octavian -now known as Augustus- was the first emperor of Rome, he transferred the eighth legion to Tunisia. (Probably, at least a subunit was in northern Spain and took part in the Cantabrian war.) Later, the legion was transferred to the Balkans, the soldiers must have won a victory that earned them the name Augusta. In 15 or 14 BCE, veterans of VIII Augusta and V Macedonica were sent to Phoenicia, to settle in the refounded city of Berytus, modern Beirut.(It is possible that thisfoundation was 15 years older and was settled with veterans from the Acium war.) After 9 CE, the soldiers were staying near Poetovio (modern Ptuj) in Pannonia. But the unit had been there, probably, for some time already. We do not know how long. In 6 CE, Augustus' son-in-law Tiberius was to lead at least eight legions (VIII Augusta and XV Apollinaris from Pannonia, XX Valeria Victrix from Illyricum, XXI Rapax from Raetia, XIII Gemina, XIV Gemina and XVI Gallica from Germania Superior and an unknown unit) against king Marbod 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 Main and 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.
For the next three years, VIII Augusta was probably involved in the war against the Pannonians. Probably in late 44,the emperor Claudius moved the legionaries of the Eighth to Novae in Moesia, modern Sishtov in Bulgaria. It is likely that at the same time (a subunit of the) legion participated in the conquest of Britain. In 45-49, soldiers of VIII Augusta may have been employed in a war against king Mithridates of the Bosporan kingdom, i.e. the Crimea. Meanwhile, in 46, the Romans conquered Thrace, and again, legionaries of the Eighth may have been used. During the reign of the emperor Nero, the legion fought against the tribes of the Sarmatians, Dacians, and Roxolani and received the surname Bis augusta ("twice august").In the confused year after the suicide of the emperor Nero, VIII Augusta sided with the pretender Otho and ensured his accession(January 69), but was unable to protect him against another pretender,Vitellius. Later, it supported Vespasian. Next year, the legion was with general Cerialis, who restored order in the Rhineland after the Batavian revolt.
They were first stationed at Mirebeau-sur-Bèze, 25 kilometers from Dyon, but there was a second fort at Argentorate (modern Strasbourg) in Germania Superior. Here the legion protected a strategic crossing point of the Middle Rhine. It was to remain there for more than three centuries. In 74, the soldiers constructed a road from Strasbourg to Rottweil and Hufingen through the Black forest, to shorten the way from the Middle Rhine to the Upper Danube. This was the beginning of the occupation of modern Baden-Württemberg(often called Agridecumates).It is almost certain that the eighth legion was part of the forces that the emperor Domitian employed (in 83/85 and 88/89) against the Chatti, who threatened
the newly conquered Roman possessions in the Black forest.
For more than a century, VIII Augusta stayed in its defensive position. Oddly enough, we know nothing about subunits that took part in Trajan's wars in Dacia, and next to nothing about soldiers fighting in the Danubian wars of Marcus Aurelius. The unit is better know for its engineering, and it comes as no surprise that in 119, a subunit of 1,000 men of the Eighth and Twenty-Second (from nearby Mainz) was temporarily dispatched to Britain to assist in building Hadrian's wall.
In 185, a man named Maternus had freed some prisoners and started a gang of robbers. Deserters from several army units joined Maternus, but the legion of Strasbourg defeated them. It was rewarded the title Pia Fidelis Constans Commoda ('Faithful, loyal, reliable, and useful'). The last element, which reminded people of the notorious emperor Commodus,was dropped after his death in 192.
After the unlucky reign of Pertinax in 193 and the coup of Didius Julianus,the legion immediately supported the countercoup of SeptimiusSeverus, and the new emperor used it in his wars against the Parthian empire and, in 196/197, against his rival Clodius Albinus. Because the urban cohort of Lyons (cohors XIII urbana) had sided with the latter,
Septimius Severus ordered a subunit of VIII Augusta to guard the capital of Gaul. A generation later, Severus Alexander used the eighth legion in his campaign against the Persian Sassanids (233). While so many Roman soldiers
were away, a coalition of Germanic warriors, the so-called Alamanni,successfully attacked Baden-Württemberg. In 235,the Romans retaliated and it is likely that VIII Augusta was one of the active units.AlthoughSeverus Alexander was killed by his own men, his successor Maximinus brought the war to a good end. Between 250 and 260, however,Baden-Württemberg was seized by the Alamanni. This time, the Romans were unable to strike back and they gave up the country between Danube and Rhine.
However,VIII Augusta still defended the Rhine frontier. In the conflict between the emperors Gallienus(of Italy) and Postumus (of Gaul), the legion seems to have supported the former, and it received honorific titles like V, VI, VII Pia fidelis (five times, six times, and seven times faithful and loyal). Yet,it seems certain that Postumus controlled Germania Superior, so we are left with a minor problem.
In the fourth century, a subunit of the eighth august legion occupied Divitia, modern Deutz, a castle opposite Cologne, in Germania Inferior. Other soldiers in this castle were from theSecond Italian legion.The main force of the unit, however, was still in Strasbourg in the fourth
century. Direct evidence is rare, but an inscription found at Zurzach on the Upper Rhine and dating to 371, proves that VIII Augusta still existed and was in Germania Superior.
Here it remained until the first years of the fifth century, when the supreme commander of the Roman forces in the west, Stilicho, transferred the army of the Rhine to the south, where it had to defend Italy against the Visigothic invaders.
Like all legions founded by Julius Caesar, this legion's emblem was a bull.
From the Notitia Dignitatum "Intra Italiam cum viri illustris magistri peditum"
The positions of the Octavani and Thebaei indicates that they were comitatenses units when the Notitia was first drawn up, but later promoted to the palatine status it is recorded having under the other list of the Magister Peditum. Half of the 12 palatine legions in the western empire are such recently upgraded units. The Octavani are evidently the old Legio VIII Augusta Pia Fedelis Constans, formerly based as Argentoratum (Strasbourg), but from an inscription mentioning the legion from Zurzach in Switzerland dating to 371AD they had apparently been partially or entirely moved away from Strasbourg before they were drafted into the Magister Peditum's Italian command.
|Members of Legion VIII with their brothers from Legion III and Legion XI|
|My Favorite Links:|
|Legion VIII Group Page for photos, files, links, messages, and discussion|
|Legion XI Claudia Pia Fidelis|
|Article on Ancient History/Roman Legion Unit histories|
|Marcellus, Optio of Legion VIII Augusta, located in San Antonio, Texas on the edges of the empire.|
|Name:||Gaius Livius Marcellus|