Legio XIII Gemina

Legio XIII Gemina

Map of the Roman empire in AD 125, under emperor Hadrian, showing the LEGIO XIII GEMINA, stationed at Apulum (now Alba Iulia, Romania), in the province of Dacia, from AD 106 to c. 271
Active 57 BC to sometime in the 5th century
Country Roman Republic and Roman Empire
Type Roman legion (Ceasarian)
Role Infantry assault (some cavalry support)
Size Varied over unit lifetime. Approx. 3,500 fighting men + support at the time of creation. Expanded and given the cognomen Gemina in 31 BC.
Garrison/HQ Burnum, Illyricum (1st century BC)
Emona, Pannonia (1st century)
Augusta Vindelica, Germania Superior
Poetovio, Pannonia (1st century)
Roman Dacia (106 – c. 270)
Dacia Aureliana (since 270)
Babylon in Egypt (400s)
Nickname(s) Gemina, "The twin" (since 31 BC)
Pia Fidelis, "Faithful and loyal"[1]
Mascot(s) Lion
Engagements Gallic Wars (58–51 BC)
Battle against the Nervians (57 BC)
Battle of Gergovia (52 BC)
Battle of Alesia (52 BC)–uncertain
Battle of Dyrrhachium (48 BC)
Battle of Pharsalus (48 BC)
Battle of Thapsus (46 BC)
Battle of Munda (45 BC)
Battle of Actium (31 BC)
1st and 2nd Battle of Bedriacum (69)
Dacian Wars (101–102,105–106)
Vexillationes of the 13th participated in many other campaigns.
Julius Caesar,
Marcus Salvius Otho,
Marcus Antonius Primus
Sestertius minted in 248 by Philip the Arab to celebrate the province of Dacia and its legions, V Macedonica and XIII Gemina. Note the eagle and lion, symbols on the reverse, respectively of legio V and legio XIII.

Legio tertia decima Geminia, in English the 13th Twin Legion, also known as Legio tertia decima Gemina, was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was one of Julius Caesar's key units in Gaul and in the civil war, and was the legion with which he famously crossed the Rubicon on January 10, 49 BC. The legion appears to have still been in existence in the 5th century AD. Its symbol was the lion.


Under the late Republic

Legio XIII was levied by Julius Caesar in 57 BC, before marching against the Belgae, in one of his early interventions in intra-Gallic conflicts. During the Gallic Wars (58–51 BC), Legio XIII was present at the Battle against the Nervians, the Siege of Gergovia, and while not specifically mentioned in the sources, it is reasonable to assume that Legio XIII was also present for the Battle of Alesia.

After the end of the Gallic wars, the Roman Senate refused Caesar his second consulship, ordered him to give up his commands, and demanded he return to Rome to face prosecution. Forced to choose either the end of his political career or civil war, Caesar brought Legio XIII across the Rubicon river and into Italy. The legion remained faithful to Caesar during the resulting civil war between Caesar and the conservative Optimates faction of the senate, whose legions were commanded by Pompey. Legio XIII was active throughout the entire war, fighting at Dyrrhachium (48 BC) and Pharsalus (48 BC). After the decisive victory over Pompey at Pharsalus, the legion was to be disbanded, and the legionaries "pensioned off" with the traditional land grants; however, the legion was recalled for the Battle of Thapsus (46 BC) and the final Battle of Munda (45 BC). After Munda, Caesar disbanded the legion, retired his veterans, and gave them farmland in Italy.

Under the Empire

Augustus reconstituted the legion once again in 41 BC to deal with the rebellion of Sextus Pompeius (son of Pompey) in Sicily.

Legio XIII acquired the cognomen Gemina ("twin", a common appellation for legions constituted from portions of others) after being reinforced with veteran legionaries from other legions following the war against Mark Antony and the Battle of Actium.[2] Augustus then sent the legion to Burnum (modern Knin), in Illyricum, a Roman province in the Adriatic Sea.

In 16 BC, the legion was transferred to Emona (now Ljubljana) in Pannonia, where it dealt with local rebellions.

After the disaster of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, the legion was sent as reinforcements to Augusta Vindelicorum (Augsburg), and then to Vindonissa, Raetia, to prevent further attacks from the Germanic tribes.

Emperor Claudius sent them back to Pannonia around 45 and the legion built its legionary fortress at Poetovium (modern Ptuj, Slovenia).

In the year of the four emperors (69), XIII Gemina supported first Otho and then Vespasian against Vitellius, fighting in the two Battles of Bedriacum.

Stamped brick found at Alba Iulia, Romania

Under Trajan the legion took part in both Dacian wars (101–102, 105–106), and it was transferred by Trajan in 106 to the newly conquered province of Dacia (in Apulum, modern Alba Iulia, Romania) to garrison it.

Vexillationes of the XIII Gemina fought under Emperor Gallienus in northern Italy. The emperor issued a legionary antoninianus celebrating the legion, and showing the legion's lion (259–260).[3] Another vexillatio was present in the army of the emperor of the Gallic Empire Victorinus: this emperor, in fact, issued a gold coin celebrating the legion and its emblem.[4]

In 271, the legion was relocated when the Dacia province was evacuated, and restationed in Dacia Aureliana.

In the 5th century, according to the Notitia Dignitatum, a legio tertiadecima gemina was in Babylon in Egypt, a strategic fortress on the Nile at the traditional border between Lower Egypt and Middle Egypt, under the command of the Comes limitis Aegypti.[5]

Attested members

Name Rank Time frame Province Soldier located in Veteran located in Source
Aurelius Rufinus [6] beneficiarius 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia Samum -
C. Cassio C. f. Volt[inia] [7] tribunus legionis ? ? ? - ?
C. Iulius Valerius [8] ? 222 – 235 AD Dacia ? ? Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, Dacia CIL III, 1933
Caius [9] speculator 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia Apulum - CIL III, 14479; IDR III/5, 426
Cocceius [9] speculator 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia Apulum - CIL III, 14479; IDR III/5, 426
L. Dasumius Priscus [8] ? 2nd century AD ? ? Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, Dacia CIL III, 1476
L. Valerius Rufus [8] decurio after 222 AD ? ? Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, Dacia CIL III, 1485
Lucius Furius ? 1st century AD Gallia Aquitania Mediolanum Santonum Aunedonnacum
Lucius Autius ? 1st century AD Gallia Aquitania Mediolanum Santonum Aunedonnacum
M. Valerius Valentinus [6] beneficiarius 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia Samum - CIL III, 827
Marcus Aurelius Timoni [10] ? 2nd - 3rd century AD Dacia ? Castra of Sânnicolau Mare ? Castra of Sânnicolau Mare, Dacia IDR III/1, 274
M[arcus] Ulp[ius] ? 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia ? Apulum IDR III/5, 180
P. Aelius Valerianus [9] speculator 2nd - 3rd century AD Dacia Apulum - IDR III/5, 721
Publius Urvinus ? ? Raetia Augusta Vindelicorum ? - CIL XIII, 6884
Q. Iulius Secundinus [8] ? 2nd century AD Dacia ? ? Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, Dacia CIL III, 1971
Statius Alexander [9] speculator 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia Apulum - Apulum 40, 2007, 176–177
Ulpius Proculinus [9] speculator Gordian's reign Dacia Apulum - CIL III, 7794b; IDR III/5, 435
Ulpius Bacchius [9] centurion ? ? ? ? ?
Valerius Vibius Valerianus [6] beneficiarius 2nd – 3rd century AD Dacia Samum - CIL III, 823

Epigraphic inscriptions

Fictional accounts

See also


  1. Steiner, Johann Wilhelm C. (1851). Codex inscriptionum romanarum Danubii et Rheni. p. 253.
  2. Birley, E.B. "A Note on the Title 'Gemina'". Journal of Roman Studies. 18 (1): 56–60. doi:10.2307/296044.
  3. Cowan, p. 17.
  4. Cowan, p. 26.
  5. Notitia Dignitatum, In partibus Orientis, XXVIII
  6. 1 2 3 Cupcea, George (2010). "Professional Officers on the Northern Dacian limes". p. 12. Retrieved 2013-05-26.
  7. Matei-Popescu, Florian (2008). "AUXILIARIA - A new equestrian officer from Philippi". Near and beyong the Roman frontier. Retrieved 2013-05-26.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Cupcea, George (2011). "Veteran settlement and Colonia Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa". Scripta Classica. Mega Publishing House. p. 19. Retrieved 2013-05-26.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Cupcea, George (2008). "SPECULATORES IN DACIA. MISSIONS AND CAREERS". Acta Musei Napocensis. p. 18. Retrieved 2013-05-26.
  10. IDR III/1, 274


Primary sources

Secondary sources

Media related to Legio XIII Gemina at Wikimedia Commons

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