Welcome to the PILUM Newsletter & Webzine!

Insight on the Roman military machine! The Pilum is a quarterly webzine publication and the official newsletter of the Sodalitas Militarium of Nova Roma, providing articles, stories and discussions on various aspects of the Roman Military with a special focus on Infantry, Cavalry, Naval, Engineering and Cartography topics.

A Tough Decision ~ Part I


by Marcus Minucius Audens

As the late summer sun drew lower in the sky over the northern coast of Gaul (modern France) the lone figure of Gaius Julius Caesar stood in contemplation looking out over the wide stretch of “Oceanus” that separated him from the mysterious island that he could just make out lying just beyond his reach, but neither his sight or desire. Caesar thought of that island as his next conquest, if only he had some idea of what awaited him there.

This was in many ways an island of mystery, and as with all mysteries there were many stories floating about as to what could be found there. It was said that this island was a treasure house of gold, and silver, pearls of great value, and tin. In addition it was said that there was a plentiful supply of cattle available and fields rich with ripening corn.

On the other hand there were also forbidding stories about Celtic Britons who followed a strange and unusual belief structure led by priest-magicians who required blood sacrifices of their followers. In addition these Britons had encouraged strongly the Gallic warriors against whom the Romans had fought and then offered sanctuary to those who were overwhelmed by the Roman army but not beaten by a long shot. Essentialy this was the Gallic tribe, Veneti of Armorica (present day Brittany).

Then too, what Julius did not know of this island of “Britannia” was far more than he did know; what for instance, was the topography/terrain of the country like? What kind of government system did they enjoy? Where were the harbors that would be able to accomodate his large fleet of ships? These questions and others plagued this 54 year old Commander of Legions as he considered hopefully his next conquest which lay almost thirty miles away over a notoriously rough and stormy stretch of water as compared with the warm and much more passive Mediterranean. This situation which was coming on with the hastening of Fall.

Caesar later in his Commentaries On the Gallic Wars relates some of his frustration in being unable to find any information about Britannia of worth to a military commander.” The Gauls knew next to nothing -- no-one goes to Britannia as a rule -- only traders go there, and they are acquainted only with the sea coast, and then only the coastal regions opposite Gaul. So, though I made enquiries of all the traders I could find, I could get no information.”

Caesar was extremely pressed for time as well. Autumn was approaching rapidly and with it he knew came the “wilder” seasonal weather of Northern Europe. Thus Caesar had no time for a prolonged infiltration of the island to sap the countries morale through propaganda and subversion, and find out what he needed nor did he have time for a proper reconnaissance with scouts whose trained eyes could provide him the information he needed.

In the end he was forced to settle for a single scout, who it turned out was afraid to go ashore for fear of being discovered and killed. This scout sailed up and down the Britannia Coastline and gathered what little information that he could.

Meanwhile, the Britons were being told volumes about the Romans by the Gaulish tribe of Veneti who had gained refuge in Britannia. They told the Britons of the Romans and their interests. The Britons had already heard of the disciplined Roman Legions and how they fought differently than anyone else that they had ever had experience with. They fought without the rash charges of the barbarians, and without the individuality of the single warrior.

They fought in ranks, each soldier standing close to the next, and protecting each other with their shields. They moved slowly and surely, backed up by slingers, archers, cavalry and huge machines which threw large stones and fire balls ahead of the advance. The Romans had lost some battles it was true, but never a war, and the Roman world was now at a point just across the Channel, and on their very doorstep. This was serious stuff, and the Britons gleaned all the information that they could from the Gaul survivors.

Respectfully Submitted,

Marcus Audens

Reference: Brenda Ralph Lewis, Caesar’s Battle For Britannia, Military History Magazine, Primedia, Publisher

Roman Conquest of Iberia ~ Part I


by Marcus Minucius Audens

One of the most decisive wars in ancient history was the result of the conquest of Iberia by General Hannibal Barca from Carthaginia.

This conquest did much to foment and start the Second Punic War (219 - 202 BC). In 218 B.C. the Northeastern Greek colonies in Iberia petitioned Rome to intervene against the Carthaginians on their behalf, they not having the military facilities to oppose the Carthaginians themselves. The request finally and in the long run, led to the Roman domination of Iberia.

This occurred in place of either the Carthaginians or the Greeks. This clash of arms had many more far-reaching results than just a conquest of arms. It insured that the Latin language and Roman law would be dominant in the histories of Spain, Portugal, France and England.

These were the countries which later who were primary in leading the way to the spread of European civilization around the globe, and created the genesis of today’s world.

Roman rule also brought unity to Europe, uniting the peoples of that continent and finally helped immensely to spread Christianity around the known world as well. However, in accomplishing these things it must be noted that remarkably advanced social patterns of these ancient times were changed forever and not particularly for the better. Recently historians have begun to give more credit to the Celtic ways of life from this period of history.

While it is true that the gift of the Roman world was to unite peoples and assimilate the best of their cultures into their own, the Romans also tended to suppress that which they considered to be unsuitable according to the accepted values of the Roman culture.

One of these rejections of the Celtic world was the role of women on cultural, economic and even political life.

For instance, a woman could hold property independent of her husband and enjoyed a list of human rights not accorded to Roman women. Many Celtic women routinely mastered the skill of arms, rode horseback, and hunted wild animals alongside their men. A Celtic noblewoman had a say in the councils of the Tribal Chiefs, and on occasion commanded armies, and even made treaties.

In the Celtic culture none of these above items were considered to be in the least bit unusual. However, as we shall see these privileges were not recognized by the Roman world and, as a result, there were long years of extremely bitter and prolonged wars over these discrepancies and differences in cultural values.

Respectfully Submitted,

Marcus Audens

Reference: Richard K. Munro, Roman Conquest Of Spain, Military History Magazine, (June, 2000), Pages 32-36

Marcus Furius Camillus


by Marcus Minucius Audens

At the gates of Rome a very familiar figure alone, disgraced, and without escort stumbled through the great gates and made his way down the road to exile. This man was Marcus Furius Camillus, once dictator, three time Roman military tribune, and recently the Roman Commander of an impressive victory, probably the most impressive one of the Republic in its early years. Once hailed as a conquering hero, he now faced a possible prison sentence and was a criminal of the state.

Facing these great and serious changes in his life, he bade farewell to his wife and son, and accepted voluntary exile from the country which had honored him and for which he gave so much. It is said that as he left Rome he faced about to look back on his city and prayed to his gods that were he truly innocent of the crimes of which he was accused, that the Roman people might again be forced by circumstance to call upon him for aid.

Considering how prophetic that prayer supposedly was, as told by Plutarch, a well known and respected Roman biographer might seem to be just a tiny bit too well timed considering the great population shift in the North which was forcing a great invading force over the Alps Mountain Range in the North of Italy and down onto the northern plains. The Gauls, fierce fighters from the Western and Northern Territories, were on their way.

So, there is some doubt about this story because it may well have been a “literary device” put together by the ancient author Livy, upon whom Plutarch depended for his facts. Livy did not write about Camillus until somewhere around 360 years or so after Camillus’ time. Not only the above but it is well known by historians that Livy was a very melodramatic writer, in fact one of the few of the most dramatic writers of which records are known. It is not unknown in Roman literature for an unlikely hero to step forward as the savior of the city of Rome just as the future looks bleak for the Romans and the Republic, and literally saves the day.

So considering the above the story should be very interesting to see what happens to Camillus after he has left Rome for his self-imposed exile. Was this Camillus truly a great and effective hero in Roman history or was he as some have said merely a mythical figure wrapped in a fine tale?

Not much is known of Camillus, except for his birth into a patrician family in 445 BC. This family is of no particular historical notice and Camillus himself does not come to recognition until he is engaged in the small tribal/city wars with the Aequians and the Volscians, burning farms and driving off herds of the enemy’s cattle.

In one such skirmish he is said to have ridden out alone and in doing so actually drove off the enemy single-handed, getting a wound in the thigh for his trouble. For this remarkable bravery he was praised and given the post as Censor. This is somewhat unusual since a Censor was an older and more experienced politician, however he was now well known and two years later was appointed Military Tribune which at this point in history was equal to the office of Consul. (To be continued)

Respectfully Submitted,

Marcus Audens

Reference: Drew J. Kendall, Marcus Furius Camillus—The Roman Republic’s Greatest Champion Or Merely A Literary Legend?, Military History Magazine, Nov. 2005, Pages 12, 14, & 18.

Some Aspects of the Hydraulic Design of Roman Aqueducts


by Marcus Minucius Audens


The marvelous architectural works were not only easy to look at, but they were also built for long term usage. In some places they still carry water to needy communities a thousand years and more after they were constructed. They were essentially extensive supply systems for war usage on a daily basis as well as the storage of water for times of need. The Romans in many areas over the Empire depended heavily on these supply systems delivering water for public health and usage.

The Roman engineers and architects who designed and built these aqueducts, it is clear, had a full understanding of and detailed knowledge of basic hydraulics. Such engineers as were contemporary with the famous engineer. Hero of Alexandria had a vast experience and expertise in the construction of these huge stone undertakings.

It is apparent that these engineers also had an understanding of hydrology since several regulation basins were found along the length of the aqueducts. Modern engineers, upon close investigation of the aqueduct design have proposed that the operation of the aqueducts was based upon the principle of dynamic regulation.

Two types of structural design were apparently used with success: Culverts and dropshaft cascades. We do not know in all but a very instances who these Roman engineers were, but it is apparent that that they understood fully their mission and technology of their time, so much so it has been suggested by modern hydraulic engineers that they perhaps were better grounded in back hydraulic and hydrology than some modern engineers working in the same areas!


This expertise is thought to have had a great deal to do with the advance of science and engineering in antiquity. These construction marvels were built mainly for the health and safety needs of the public such as baths, thermes, and sanitary needs (HODGE, 1992, Fabre, et al, 1992, 2000).

Many of these magnificent structures were used for centuries and some are still in use as at Carthage. Magnificent aqueduct remains in Rome, in France, in Spain and in North Africa, for example are still standing (e.g. Carthage, CLAMAGIRAND et al, 1990, Mons and Frejus, VALENTI, 1995 a,b, -- Fig. 1).

They were apparently repaired again and again to maintain their usage. We know this because the repairs to the original aqueducts never indicated the skill and ability of the original builders and thus were clear to discover and inspect.

The task of designing and constructing an aqueduct was a gigantic task depending on many, many workers, a good source of stone nearby, wagons for hauling, cranes for lifting, wood for support structures, quarrying, and skilled people in each area for the construction. So the task of design and construction was often undertaken by army experienced hydraulicians during times of relative peace

The cost and time to build were gigantic considering the amount of water delivered which was rated at the following flow rates on average (less than 0.5 m3/s) and the cost was approximately one to three million sesterces per kilometer on average (e.g. FEVRIER, 1979, LEVEAU 1991).

(To Be Continued)

Reference: Hubert Chanson, Some Aspects of the Hydraulic Design of Roman Aqueducts, La Houille Blanche, 2002, No, 6/7, pp. 43-57 (in French),”e2hchans/TRAIANYS.

Roman Marine II


by Marcus Minucius Audens

The floor of the passage was dry, and the atmosphere was both cool and damp. The way was dark and lighted only by the reflected light from the lamps in the rooms he passed. He saw several small offices that were set off the tunnel-way which were filled with scribae and librarii laboring over piles of ledgers and stacks of papyri and parchment. This was obviously the administrative heart of the fortress at Dubris. As Hastus considered his surroundings his guide stopped abruptly in front of him.

“Wait here,” said the officer, and punctuated the order with another scowl. Hastus simply nodded his assent and leaned cautiously against the stone wall. The stone was cold on his bare arm. His guide had stepped around the corner of the doorway and immediately snapped to attention and gave a crashing salute. Hastus thought that the man resembled a miniature thunderstorm with his dark forbidding scowls, and crashing salutes , but Hastus knew better than to give voice to his observations. “A new man reporting Centurion, he awaits your pleasure sir.” said staff officer in a loud voice, still standing stiffly at attention.

Hastus could hear a faint murmur of a reply from within the room, but could not make out the words. Hastus disliked overt military courtesy thinking it greatly overdone, even on parade, but in the god’s name, deep in the bowels of a fortress…….! However, service experience had taught him that conformance was the best path, at least for the present. His guide’s action indicated that the unknown senior officer in the next room was dedicated to such trivialities, and the sealed orders from a disbanded legion would not make him the most popular replacement at this outpost.

He was fortunate to be in the legions at all as many of his former comrades had been dismissed the service, and a few were severely punished for their crimes and neglect of duties as well as orders.

The last battle laurels of the Fourteenth Legio were more than twelve years old, and the legion had grown lazy in its post. His cohort, “The Ailing Eighth” as it was “fondly” known to its members, because the Commanding Centurion was not well, and the Tribune to which it was assigned was more interested in the rear of his concubine than the completion of his duties.

The foolish attempted theft of the Legio’s strongbox, as well as the complaints and poor performance, and the political situation at the time decreed that the legion would be disbanded. His Centurion had spoken for him and his energy and skill as a weapons-maker had won another posting for him rather than the disgrace of being dismissed the service. Others in his cohort, not dismissed, were sent en masse to support the Roman fleet on the Danube to be used as naval personnel, a step down from the honor of the legion. However, all this would make little difference here.

He was a remnant of a disbanded legion and therefore suspect until proven otherwise. Now he was face to face with his new commander, and without a further thought Hastus strode forward, came to attentions and rendered a proper salute. The bite of his dress helmet clamped tightly under his arm helped him to retain his sense of reality in this gloomy place, ”Hastus Pilius Scipius, acting Principalus reports his arrival. I salute you and Caesar.” This last was accompanied with a clash of armor and the thud of his nailed boots. Hastus thought that he had done rather well as ceremonials go, but the man seated before him did not change his expression at all.

The room in which Hastus found himself was small as guard rooms go and rather sparsely furnished. The bare rock walls were hung with a few items of armor and weapons, probably those of the Centurion, and a pitcher rested in a shallow dish on a small table in one corner.

The officer before him was seated on a rough wooden bench at a plain table and the room’s harshness was relieved only by a simple rush mat on the floor and a small cushion which eased somewhat the hard split surface.

The table was piled high with scrolls, foolscap, and wax tablets. A second small table in an opposite corner was also filled with scrolls, and a basket beneath the table held a small stack of waxed tablets, and wooden tablet leaves.

The slight figure behind the table surprised Hastus. His armor badge marked him as a senior Centurion, and his face was the color of well, tanned leather. He was dressed as if for parade with a rust red cape and molded leather chest plate. His white tunic was freshly laundered and bore around the lower edge the watered green stripe which denoted the fleet support legions. His right eyelid drooped slightly as though he was half asleep, but his grey eyes never wavered as they looked at and seemingly through the legionary in front of him.

The centurion slowly stood and holding out his hand, he rounded the table to stand before Hastus, “your orders please,” he said in a crisp voice. The officer stood a full head shorter than man in front of him. Hastus extended the orders cylinder, and the officer broke the seal and withdrew the papyrus sheet inside.

(To Be Continued)

Respectfully Submitted,

Marcus Audens

Marcus Aurelius ~ Book II, Item II

by Marcus Minucius Audens

“Every Hour of the day give vigorous attention, as a Roman and as a man, to the performance of the task at hand with precise analysis, with unaffected dignity, with human sympathy, and with dispassionate justice - and to vacating your mind from all it’s other thoughts. And you will achieve this vacation if you perform each action as if it were the last of your life: freed, that is, from all lack of aim from all passion-led deviation from the ordnance of reason, from pretense, from love of self, with dissatisfaction with what fate has dealt you. You see how few things a man needs to master for the settled flow of a god-fearing life. The gods themselves ask nothing more of one who keeps these observances.”

Respectfully Submitted,

Marcus Audens

Reference: Marcus Aurelius, Martin Hammond (Trans.), Meditations, Penguin Books, New York - London, 2006, Pg. 11.

Mago Barca, Brother of Hannibal


by Lucius Vitellius Triarius

Mago Barca (Phoenician Meaning: "God sent"), son of Hamilcar Barca, also spelled Magon (243 BC - 203 BC), was a member of the Barcid family, and played an important role in the Second Punic War, leading forces of Carthage against the Roman Republic in Hispania, Gallia Cisalpina and Italy. Little is known about his early years, except that, unlike his brothers, he is not mentioned during the ambush in which his father was killed in 228 BC. Mago was the third and youngest son of Hamilcar Barca, brother to Hannibal and Hasdrubal Barca, and brother-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair. Their family is called the "Barcids".

Mago was among the Carthaginian officers who accompanied Hannibal to the Italian Peninsula. Among them were Maharbal, Hanno the Elder, Muttinus, Carthalo and another Hasdrubal. Mago fought at the side of Hannibal in the invasion of the Italian Peninsula and played a key role in many battles. At the Battle of the Trebia he commanded the detachment that ambushed the Romans, breaking down their battle array.

After the battle, Mago commanded the rearguard of the Carthaginian column as it marched south towards Latinum through the marshes of Aino. In the Battle of Cannae, Mago and Hannibal took position with the Galic infantry at the center, in the most vulnerable and crucial position of the formation.

After the victory of Cannae, Hannibal sent Mago with a detachment to Bruttium (southern Italy). While marching through Lucania and Bruttium, Mago subdued several towns and brought over several to the Carthaginian side. From Bruttium Mago sailed to Carthage, leaving Hanno the Elder in command of the Carthaginian garrison. Mago presented the golden rings of Roman equites fallen at Cannae to the Carthaginian Senate, requesting reinforcements for Hannibal at the end of his speech. This prompted the supporters of the Barcid party in the senate to taunt their opponents, who had bitterly opposed any aid to Hannibal.

In response, Hanno the Great, leading opponent of the Barcids, placed several questions to Mago, which took most of the gloss off Mago's presentation. Still, the Senate members were impressed enough to vote the raising of an army, made up of 12,000 infantry, 1500 cavalry and 20 elephants, as reinforcements for Hannibal. However, when the news of the disastrous Battle of Dertosa reached Carthage, Mago and his army were sent to Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) as reinforcements for Hasdrubal Barca instead. But the Carthaginian Senate did not entirely ignore the Italian front for once. A force of 4,000 Numidian cavalry and 40 elephants was sent to Lorci in Bruttium, escorted by the Punic fleet under Bomilcar. This is the only significant reinforcements Hannibal was to receive from his government.

Although Hasdrubal Barca nominally commanded all Carthaginian forces in the Iberian Peninsula (the Roman Hispania), Mago received an independent command, a division which was to have grave consequences later. The two Barca brothers, aided by Hasdrubal Gisco, battled the Romans under the command of the Scipio brothers (Scipio Africanus and Publius Cornelius Scipio) throughout 215-212 BC. Mago, in a cavalry ambush of Publius Cornelius Scipio, killed 2000 Romans near Acre Luce in 214 BC, and also aided in keeping the Hispanic tribes loyal to Carthage. On the whole, the Carthaginians managed to maintain the balance of power in Hispania despite the efforts of the Scipios, but failed to send any aid to Hannibal.

The situation was favorable enough, as Hasdrubal Barca managed to cross over to Africa with an army to crush the rebellion of Syphax, king on Numidian tribes in 212 BC, without the Scipios causing any disruptions in Hispania. Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco guarded the Carthaginian possessions in Iberia without difficulty, despite the Scipios outnumbering their armies during the absence of Hasdrubal.

The Scipio brothers launched a major offensive in 211 BC. The Carthaginian armies were separated with Hasdrubal Gisco near Gades with 10,000 troops, Mago near Castulo with another 10,000, and Hasdrubal Barca with 15,000 soldiers near Amtorgis. The Scipios planned to confront the Carthaginians simultaneously and destroy their armies in detail. The coordination of the three Carthaginian armies was crucial in defeating and killing the Scipio brothers and destroying most of the Roman forces in Hispania in the battles that followed.

The Scipios had split their army, with Publius Scipio marching west with 20,000 soldiers to attack Mago near Castulo, while Gnaeus Scipio took 35,000 to attack Hasdrubal Barca. Hasdrubal Gisco force marched to join Mago Barca, who, aided by Indibilis and Masinissa, defeated and killed Publius Scipio, then with the combined armies joined Hasdubal Barca to defeat and kill Gnaeus Scipio as well in a span of 23 days.

However, the lack of coordination after the battle led to the escape of the Roman survivors, about 8,000 men, to the north of the Ebro River. These men checked Carthaginian attacks twice, and were later reinforced by 20,000 troops from Italy by 210 BC. Publius Cornelius Scipio the Younger, exploiting the lack of coordination among the Carthaginian generals and the scattered location of their armies, ended up taking Cartagena in a daring expedition in 209 BC. Mago and his army was 3 days march from Cartagena at that time. The Carthaginians moved their base to Gades.

In 208 BC, after the Battle of Baecula, Hasdrubal Barca left Hispania to invade Italy and bring reinforcements to his brother Hannibal, who was operating in Lucania. Mago moved with his army to the area between Tagus and Douro rivers in a recruiting mission with Hanno, a newly arrived general. Their mission was successful, but they split the army into 2 camps and relaxed their vigilance. Their army was surprised and scattered by Romans forces commanded by Marcus Silanus in 207 BC. Hanno was captured, but Mago managed to lead a few thousand survivors to Gades, where he joined forces with Hasdrubal Gisco. The Carthaginians dispersed their army in several towns and focused on recruiting fresh troops. This strategy frustrated the strategy of Scipio to force a decisive battle that year. Mago enjoyed joint command of the new army and raided the Roman army with his cavalry. The foresight of Scipio Africanus, who had kept his cavalry outside camp in a hidden position, led to the defeat of this raid.

After suffering defeat at Ilipa in 206 BC, Hasdrubal Gisco returned to Africa and Mago retreated to Gades (modern Cádiz) with the remnants of his army. His deputy, another Hanno, was defeated by L. Marcius, and Mago was unable to take advantage of the rebellion of Hispanic tribes under Indibilis or the mutiny of the Roman troops in 205 BC. He led a raid on Cartagena, believing the city to be lightly held, and suffered severe losses. Upon returning, he found the gates of Gades barred, and sailed away to the Balearic Islands after crucifying the city magistrates for treason.

Mago then led a campaign to invade Italy (this time by sea) with 15,000 men in early summer of 205 BC. The army sailed from Minorca to Liguria under the escort of 30 Carthaginian quinqueremes. Mago managed to capture Genoa, and he held control of Northern Italy for nearly three years, warring with the mountain tribes and gathering troops. The Romans devoted 7 legions to maintain watch over him and guard Northern Italy, but no general action was fought.

In 204 BC Mago was reinforced with 6,000 infantry and some cavalry from Carthage. Wounded in a battle in Cisalpine Gaul, Mago was recalled back to Carthage along with Hannibal to aid in its defense, as the future Scipio Africanus major had shattered the armies of Hasdrubal Gisco, Hanno, son of Bomilcar, and had captured Syphax, who was allied to Carthage, in Africa. Mago and his army sailed from Italy in 202 BC under the escort of the Punic fleet, and was unmolested by the Roman navy as he made for Africa. Before arriving in Carthage, however, he died at sea.

The ability of Mago as a field commander can be glimpsed from his actions at the battles of Trebbia and Cannae, where his failure might have doomed the Carthaginian army. He was a capable cavalry leader, as his repeated ambushes of the Romans in Iberia and Italy demonstrate. Mago Barca’s legacy lives on in a most surprising way. On Menorca in the Balearic, he had founded the city that is still called Port Mahon. The typical local egg sauce that has conquered the world is known today as “mayonnaise.”

Reference: and

Cyrenaica ~ The Romans in Libya


by Lucius Vitellius Triarius

In the ancient world Cyrenaica was originally occupied by a semi-nomadic population conventionally known as Libyan, and settled by Greek colonists in and after the late seventh century BCE.

The Greeks eventually established five cities (Cyrene, Apollonia, Barca/Ptolemais, Taucheira and Euhesperides/Berenice) and an unknown number of villages. (The distribution of the population has points of contact with that of classical Attica).

They were joined in the third-second centuries BCE by groups brought in by the Hellenistic kings of Egypt (who had acquired control over the territory) – all of them Greek-speakers, as far as we know, but of varied origins (including many Jews - but very few genuine Egyptians).

In the second century BCE the king (related to the dynasty ruling in Egypt) is known, from an inscription found at Cyrene, to have bequeathed his kingdom to Rome should he die without an heir. In fact he left an heir, but a descendant who died in 96 BCE had none - and Cyrenaica then passed peacefully into Roman control - at first very loosely exercised, later with increasing effect, but only seriously after sometime around 30 BCE. Much of the Roman period in Cyrenaica was peaceful. Some Roman immigrants resided there at an early date, and some of the Greeks received Roman citizenship. A famous inscription of 4 BCE contains a number of edicts of the emperor Augustus regulating with great fairness the relationship between Roman and non-Roman.

The character of its civilization, however, remained entirely Greek. Jews formed a considerable minority group in the province and had their own organizations at Berenice and Cyrene. They took no part in the great revolt of Judaea in 66 BCE but in 115 BCE began a formidable rebellion in Cyrene that spread to Egypt. No reason for it is known. It caused great destruction and loss of life, and Hadrian took special measures to reconstruct Cyrene and also sent out some colonists. Peaceful conditions returned, but in 268–269 BCE the Marmaridae, inhabiting the coast between Cyrenaica and Egypt, caused trouble.

Thereafter, until the beginning of the fourth century BCE it was normally administered along with the neighboring island of Crete by proconsuls of praetorian rank answerable to the Senate and People at Rome; but the inscriptions show a significant relationship also with the emperors - a matter on which they throw useful light. At the beginning of the fourth century CE Cyrenaica was separated from Crete. When Diocletian reorganized the empire, Cyrenaica was separated from Crete and divided into two provinces: Libya Superior, or Pentapolis (capital Ptolemais), and Libya Inferior, or Sicca (capital Paraetonium).

A regular force was stationed there for the first time under a dux Libyarum. At the end of the 4th century, the Austuriani, a nomad tribe that had earlier raided Tripolitania, caused much damage, and Cyrenaica began to suffer from the general decline of security throughout the empire, in this case from desert nomads. A notable phenomenon of the 5th and 6th centuries, as in Tripolitania, was the number of fortified farms, most frequent in the Akhar Mountains and south of Boreum (Bū Quraydah) and also apparently in the region of Banghāzī., divided into two, the provinces of Libya Inferior and Libya Superior or Pentapolis and governed thereafter as standard late antique provinces.

Legio III Cyrenaica was one of the Roman legions. While the emblem of III Cyrenaica is not known, its name is and means 'the legion from Cyrenaica'. The origins of this unit are unclear, but it is probable that it was founded by either Lepidus or Marc Antony, two members of the Second Triumvirate that ruled the Roman between 43 BCE and 31 BCE. This assumption is based on the fact that until 36 BCE, Lepidus was master of Cyrenaica, and after 36 BCE, Marc Antony. However, it is also possible that the legion has another origin and received its name after 30 BCE, when it was certainly active in Egypt and may have been sent to Cyrenaica. Whatever the origins of the Third legion, the emperor Augustus used it to occupy Egypt, which he had annexed in 30 CE. Here, it stayed for a century and a half, and it comes as no surprise that the soldiers of the legion started to venerate an Egyptian god, Ammon.

Originally, it was stationed in Upper Egypt (at Thebes?), where the presence of soldiers of III Cyrenaica is attested at Berenice and near the stone quarries in the Thebaid. However, an inscription from 35 CE shows that by then, the Third had been transferred to Alexandria, where it shared its base with XXII Deiotariana. It is likely that the transfer took place in the last years of Augustus, perhaps between 7 and 9 CE.

It is likely that (subunits of) III Cyrenaica took part in the Roman attack on Arabia Felix (Yemen) in 26-25 BCE. This campaign, commanded by Aelius Gallus, the 2rd praefect of Roman Egypt (Aegyptus) in the reign of Augustus during the years 26–24 BC, was very difficult. Even worse, during the absence of the Roman garrison, the Nubian kingdom of Meroe attacked Upper Egypt. In 24 BCE, the Romans retaliated. Commanded by Gaius Petronius, the legions marched upstream along the Nile and reached Napata, the ancient northern capital of Nubia. Although their presence is not attested, soldiers of III Cyrenaica must have taken part in this campaign. After this, the frontier between Nubia and the Roman Empire became more quiet.

However, Egypt was not always peaceful. Sometimes, the legions had to suppress violence among the ethnic groups living in the city: Greeks, Egyptians, and Jews. (A description of one outburst of ethnic violence can be found here.) On other occasions, subunits were sent abroad. It is possible that one of them was sent to Tongeren in Gallia Belgica during the reign of Caligula, which may have been part of the army he wanted to use to invade Britain. Another subunit took part in the campaign against the Parthian empire of Domitius Corbulo in 63 CE.

During the Jewish war of 66-70 CE, the Third and Twenty-Second legions fought against the Jews of Alexandria, and in 69 CE, when civil war had broken out between several Roman generals, they were among the first supporters of the new emperor Vespasian. A subunit of III Cyrenaica took part in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. In 106 CE, it was transferred to the new province of Arabia Petraea, which was annexed by the emperor Trajan. Its base was at Bostra. Later, however, it returned to Egypt, where it is mentioned together with XXII Deiotariana in 119 CE.

It is probable that this relocation had something to do with the emperor Trajan's war against the Parthians, and/or the rebellion of the Jews of Alexandria. However, the legion returned to Arabia after 125 CE. Its successor at Alexandria was II Traiana Fortis. Its history continues well written until around 260 CE. The later history of this unit is unclear, but the third Cyrenaican legion was still at Bostra at the beginning of the fifth century.

Reference: and

Sodalitas Militarium ~ Standing Orders


I. Officers and Responsibilities of the Militarium StaffEdit

A. All Praefecti; Cornicularius

B. -- Duties and Responsibilities:

1. Maintain a Presence on the Militarium Command Web list;

2. Vote on items and agenda brought before the staff for consideration;

3. Contribute articles, items, and discussion to the Militarium website and web list;

4. These Praefecti and Officers make up the Militarium Command Staff and are responsible for the proper and continued operation of the Militarium web list, website and the advisory activities and duties accruing to being a member of the Militarium Staff.

II. -- Sodalitas Militarium Web List Rules:Edit

A. This list has simple rules:

Be Civil & Stay On Topic<<<<<<<<<<

We are here to learn from each other, to discuss aspects of the Roman Military, and Roman Reenactment Events. Disagreements are, of course, part of the learning process, yet being impolite, and rude is not necessary to that goal and will not be tolerated.

B. Violations are:

1. Language: Swearing, insults, gutter language libelous statements or showing a clear disrespect for another member in or to the Forum will not be tolerated. There is no need for any of this in polite conversation.

2. Closure of discussion: Sometimes a discussion can become never-ending. Should this situation arise on this list, the Moderator or the List Owner may post a "Closure Notice" to the list, and the discussion will be terminated in 24 hours. Violators of the Closure Notice may be set to "not post" for a time determined by the List Owner or Moderator.

3. Tantrums: We are mostly adults here. If you storm off in a temper tantrum, you may find it hard to re-join the list. A cooling off period (no-post) to be determined by the List owner or Moderator and will be imposed before you are allowed to return, and post to the list. Violators will be sent a private notice of their violation before they are set on "no-post." Violators will not be allowed to post to the list, for a time determined by the List owner or Moderator. Two such violations will result in expulsion from the list.

4. Stay On Topic: This list deals with Roman Military History and Roman Military Events. This is not the place to lash out at members of the list, or members or coordinators of an event. The purpose of this list is to share information and ideas about Roman Military History. Event improvement suggestions politely stated are most welcome

5. References: In your discussions on the list, if you have information about the Roman Military History to impart, please provide a reference for the material shared. There is a great deal of misinformation which is being discussed about this topic, much of which originates in Hollywood. Moving pictures are made to make money and NOT to reflect history. The best references are, of course, Primary Sources, but there are some very good Secondary Sources as well.

6. Miscellaneous: Please do not quote more than four lines of a previous post when replying.... If you have more than one point to answer snip the copy and answer the relevant lines. Including an entire post in a reply is really redundant, and folks may miss your point, because they didn't read far enough.

Note: If you have questions about these rules, you may e-mail the List Owner privately. Any inquiries will be addressed as appropriate.

Respectfully Submitted,

Marcus Audens

Sodalitas Militarium

On the mailing list of the Sodalitas Militarium of the Republic of Nova Roma, members discuss and study aspects of the Roman Military with focus on Infantry, Cavalry, Naval, Engineering and Cartography. Although the Sodalitas Militarium in no way promotes conquest and unnecessary military force, we are intrigued at the efficiency of the Roman Military Vehicle and its positive contributions to the foundation of Ancient and contemporary civilization, as well as its tactical legacy to the military forces of today. Members discuss Ancient Roman military strategies, tactics, battles, and also plan future social events. The Sodalitas is involved in the sponsorship of Roman Reenactment Legions worldwide. All citizens and socii in Nova Roma are invited to join the Sodalitas Militarium.

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