Roman Legion - Legio X Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis (Tenth Straits Legion)- Roman legion formed by the emperor Octavian Augustus in 41 or 40 BC for a war with the youngest son of Gnaeus Pompey the Great, Sextus Pompey, who then controlled the Sicilian Island and was one of the leaders of the Pompeians.
Dates of existence: Created in 41/40 BC. The last mention of the legion dates back to 410.
Legion symbols: Bull, warship, boar, Neptune, dolphin
Titles: Antoniniana Pia Fidelis
The name Fretensis can be translated as "Crushing in the Strait", "Guarding the Strait", "Legion of the Strait" or simply "Legion of the Strait". According to Mommsen, this cognomen is due to the fact that the legion was originally created to protect the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy (Latin Fretum Siculum). Despite its name, the Legion was not a naval unit.
- In 36 BC, the Naval Battle of Navloh (a cape in Italy). In this battle, Agrippa defeated Sextus Pompey and for participating in this battle, the legion received its name-Fretensis.
- In 31 BC, the Legio X Fretensis participates in the famous naval battle between the troops Octavian and Antony at the Cape of Shares. Shortly after this battle, the legion was transferred to Syria. From Syria the legion was sent to suppress the Jewish revolt in Judea that occurred after the death of King Herod the Great in 4 AD
- In 6 AD, the legion was transferred to Cyrrhus (present-day Turkey). Later, he was again transferred to Syria and during the reign of Emperor Nero was sent to participate in the Armenian campaign of Gnaeus Corbulonus 58-63. Corbulo was a Roman general who, on the orders of the Emperor Nero, set about solving the Eastern question, in particular, to conquer Armenia and turn it into a Roman province. Several legions, including the Legio X Fretensis, participated in Corbulo's campaign against Armenia (Roman-Parthian War of 58-63).
- During the reign of Emperor Nero (54-68), the legion participated in the Armenian campaign of Gnaeus Domitius Corbuon. Corbulo was a Roman general who, on the orders of Emperor Nero, set about solving the Eastern question, in particular, the conquest of Armenia and turning it into a Roman province. Several legions, including the Legio X Fretensis, participated in Corbulo's campaign against Armenia (Roman-Parthian War of 58-63). The legionnaires of Legio X Fretensis managed to capture part of Armenia, including the two capitals of Armenia – the cities of Artashtat and Tigranakert.
- After the campaign against Armenia, Legio X Fretensis was again returned to Syria. Here, a legion unit takes part in the suppression of the uprising in Jerusalem in 66 (the First Jewish War). The rebellion was not crushed, and the legionnaires of the Tenth Legion were defeated. The remnants were assigned to the main legion units located in Ptolemais (modern city of Acre in Israel).
- The Legion, having regained its strength after its defeat in Judea near Jerusalem in 66 A.D., once again takes part in the suppression of the first Jewish revolt.
- During the First Jewish War (66-71), the legion is commanded by Marcus Ulpius Trajan, the father of the future Roman emperor Trajan and Titus Flavius Vespasian, who later became Emperor Titus. In 68, after capturing the important Jewish city of Gamala, Legio X Fretensis was transferred to Scythopolis (the modern city of Beit She'an, located in the Jordan Valley, about 25 km away). from Lake Kinneret, Israel). Here he operates in the Jordan Valley, where he destroys the Qumran monastery.
- In the year 70, when Titus, the son of Emperor Vespasian, became commander of the legion, the legion takes part in the siege and assault of Jerusalem. After the capture of Jerusalem, he begins the siege of the last formidable fortress held by Jewish rebels - Massade. For the capture of Massada, which took the legion 3 years (71-73), as the fragments of Roman siege camps preserved around Massada remind us today, the legion was forgiven for its defeat at Jerusalem at the beginning of the Jewish revolt.
- Josephus, during the First Jewish War was a Jewish general, but during the war was captured by the Romans and later went to their service and wrote a detailed work on the 1st Jewish War, which called: "The Jewish War".
According to the book of Josephus, Elazar ben Yair, the leader of the defenders of Masada, gave a fiery speech to the Jews and urged them to die free men-to prefer death to painful and shameful slavery (excerpt of their speech by Elazar ben Yair, delivered on the night of the fall of Masada (Josephus, The Jewish War, VII, 320-336)):
"Take heart, heroes, cover yourself with glory! We have long ago decided not to submit to the Romans or to any other rulers, except God alone, for He alone is the true and just king over men. And now it is time to fulfill our vow. Let us not put ourselves to shame in this hour, for even before our soul abhorred the share of slavery, although then slavery did not threaten us with such monstrous dangers. Let us not even now voluntarily surrender ourselves to slavery, nor to the terrible torments that await us. We will not disgrace ourselves before the Romans, we will not surrender to them alive! We are the first to rise up against them, and the last to leave the battlefield. The Lord has shown us a great mercy by giving us the opportunity to die the death of heroes, to die as free men, which was not possible for our brothers who were captured suddenly. But we are open to what awaits us tomorrow, and given the right to choose the glorious death of heroes-along with those who are dear to us. May our wives not die disgraced, and may our orphans not experience the bitterness of slavery. And then we will do one another a last service, we will show one another a last favor, and what can be better and more precious, brothers, than the honorable shroud of freedom? But before we die, let us set our property and fortress on fire. I know for a fact that the Romans will be upset if they see that they didn't take us alive and were disappointed in their hopes of plundering us. Only our food supplies will be left untouched, so that after our death they will bear witness that we did not suffer from hunger or lack of water, but we ourselves chose death over slavery — as we had previously decided..."
In his description, Josephus refers to the story of two women who took refuge in a cave with five children and told the Romans how men killed their wives and children, and then by lot each other.
"...then ten people were chosen by lot, who were to kill the rest. And each of them sprawled on the ground beside his dead wife and children, his arms wrapped around their bodies, and willingly offered his throat to the ten who were performing this terrible duty. These people stabbed everyone with their swords without flinching, one by one. Then they cast lots among themselves, so that whoever fate pointed out would kill nine of their comrades, and then lay hands on himself.…So they all perished with the certainty that they had not left behind a single soul to be abused by the Romans. The next day the Romans went up to Masada, and when they found the dead heaps, they did not rejoice at the sight of their dead enemies, but only stood in silence, struck by the greatness of their spirit and the invincible contempt for death" (VII, 9: 1)."
The last of the 960 besieged set fire to the fortress and committed suicide. The legate of the legion during the siege of Massada was Lucius Flavius Silva Nonius Bassus. Also from the height of the Massada walls, you can still see the remains of the preserved outlines of Roman military camps around the fortress, built by legionnaires Legio X Fretensis.
Map of the Roman camp at the foot of the Masada fortress in Israel
Massada, leaf soldier X Fretensis. Gaius Messius, son of Hesius, of Berytus, was one of the soldiers of the Legio X Fretensis who took part in the siege of Massada. Massada Museum. 72nd year A.D.
Masada, an inscription left by a soldier of the Legio X Fretensis in 74 AD. Museum in Massada. Israel
- After the fall of Massada, the Legio X Fretensis was transferred to Jerusalem for almost 150 years, where it became a permanent camp. His stay in Jerusalem during this period is evidenced by the finds of the baths of the Tenth Legion near the bridge leading to the old city of Jerusalem, the remains of tiles with the legion's brands, a column with the mention of the legion's name located in Jerusalem. At this time, the Legion is subordinate to the Procurator of Judea.
- In the second century during the reign of the Emperor The Legion takes part in the Parthian Campaign (115-117) of Emperor Trajan. In the course of this campaign, at first, the Emperor Trajan captured the entire Mesopotamia, and then was forced to leave it and retreat to Syria.
- Legio X Fretensis continues to serve in Syria and already under the next emperor, Emperor Hadrian, takes part in the suppression of the Second Jewish Uprising known in history as the Uprising of Shimon Bar Kokhba (131-135). The Legion participates in the siege and destruction of the last stronghold of the rebels, the fortress city of Beitar, located in the Judean Mountains, to which it is located. southwest of the city of Jerusalem.
- After the fall of Beitar, the Legion and Legio VI Ferrata camp together in the Galilee region. The next mention of the legion dates back to the reign of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- During the reign of this emperor, the legion took part in the Marcomanian wars in Dacia. These wars were fought by Rome with alliances of Sarmatian and Germanic tribes in 166-180, due to their movements of these tribes to the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Separate episodes of the Marcomanian War are depicted on the bas -reliefs of the column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome. After that, the legion continues to serve in Syria.
- In Year of the Five Emperors (193 A.D.) Legio X Fretensis supports one of the contenders for the imperial throne in Rome, Pescennius Niger, who proclaimed himself emperor, but was defeated by the forces of another contender for the imperial throne, Septimius Severus. The victorious Severus leaves the legion to serve in Judea.
- At the beginning of the third century, cavalry assigned to the legion takes part in the war in Gaul, where it receives the title Pia Fidelis ("Loyal and honest"). Previously, the legion received the title of Antoniniana , but when and for what merits is unknown.
- At the beginning of the third century, the Legio X Fretensis is still located in Jerusalem, but later it is transferred to Ayla (near the southern city of Eilat, Israel), where it is engaged in the protection of an important trade and transport road from Eilat to Jerusalem.
- At the beginning of the fifth century (410 A.D.), the Legion was still stationed in Aila (a city located on the northern coast of the Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea, belongs to Jordan, near the Israeli city of Eilat).
- There are no later records of the legion.
Interestingly, there is a version according to which Legio X Fretensis is the legendary Tenth Legion of Caesar. As a refutation of this version, the famous Australian writer Stephen Dando-Collins (Legions of Rome. Complete history of all the legions of the Roman Empire). The opposite version is held by the German historian of the XIX century Theodor Mommsen.
Stele in the old market of Jerusalem
Tiles with the stamp of the Legion in Israel, 1-2 century AD.
Tile with Legio X Fretensis symbols. Jerusalem. Museum of Jerusalem, Davidson Center. 70-130 AD
Our club, Legio X Fretensis, is engaged in the reconstruction of this combat unit by the Roman Empire, after which it is called, although for a long time the activity has gone beyond the reconstruction of only the Tenth Legion. The main time period in which the Tenth Legion is reconstructed is the 1st-2nd century AD.
However, there are other clubs for the reconstruction of this division around the world, one of them is located in Malta.
List of Roman Legions, Legion, Legionnaire, Octavian Augustus, Legio VI Ferrata, Legio X Gemina, Legio IX Hispana, Legio XI Claudia
1. Theodor Mommsen. "History of the Roman Emperors".
2. I. Golyzhenkov- " The Army of Imperial Rome. I-II centuries A.D.".
3. A. Makhlayuk. "The Roman legions. The most complete illustrated Encyclopedia (3rd Edition, revised and expanded)".
4. Grushevoy A. G. "Jews and Judaism in the history of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire".
5. Dando-Collins. "The Legions of Rome. The Complete History of the Legions of the Roman Empire”"
6. Josephus. "The Jewish War".
8. E. Dombrova, Legio X Fretensis. Prosopographical study of its officials (I-III C AD) (1993).
9. E. Dombrova, "Legio X Fretensis", in: Yann Le Boheck, " The Legion of Rome and the Upper Empire "(2000 Lyon) 317-325.
10. H. Geva, "The Tenth Legion Camp in Jerusalem: An Archaeological reinterpretation," in Israel Exploration Journal 34 (1984) 239-254.
11. M. Guichon, "The Siege of Masada", in: Jan Le Bogec, Les legions de Rome sous Le Haut-Empire (2000 Lyon) 541-554.
12. J. Meshorer, "Two finds from the Roman Tenth Legion," in: Israel Museum Journal 3 (1984), 41-45.
Nero's Sestertius with the mark of the 10th Legion. Private collection. 1st century AD
Agrippa's coin, marked Legio X Fretensis. Massada Museum. Israel. Around AD 74.
Fibula of the Tenth Legion. Silver. Private collection. Length-31mm, width-11mm, weight 5g. Late 1st century BC
Bronze coin with boar and dolphin. Bronze, 24.6 mm. The reverse side shows the XF brand. Private auction Hendin 1609/1615. Found in Haifa. 1-2 century AD
Coin with the seal Legio X Fretensis. 1-2 century AD
Coin with the seal Legio X Fretensis. 1-2 century AD
Tabula ansata vexillations of the Tenth Legion on the territory of a monastery in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Ghosh. 1-2 century AD.
Fragment of the seal on the iron coin Legio X Fretensis. 1-2 century AD
Milestone e with mention of X Fretensis. Jerusalem, Davidson Center. 70-79 AD
Helmet type Imperial Italian G (Imperial Italic G). Found in a cave near Hebron (Palestinian Authority, Israel). It is believed that it belonged to the legionnaire Legio X Fretensis. First half of the 2nd century AD
Ceramics with the Legio X Fretensis seal. G&M auction, private collection. First half of the second century