Legio IX Hispana
(Musei Vaticani, Roma) Legio VIIII Hispana: one of the Roman legions. Its name means 'the Spanish legion'.
With the seventh, eighth and tenth legions, the Ninth was among the oldest units in the imperial Roman army. They were with Julius Caesar when he invaded Gaul in 58 BCE. The Roman commander mentions the ninth legion in his accounts of the battle against the Nervians.
During the civil war against Caesar's fellow-triumvir and rival Pompey, it fought in Hispania in the battle of Ilerda (Summer 49); later, the soldiers were transferred to Placentia, where they briefly revolted. In the spring of 48, it served at Dyrrhachium, and suffered heavily. In the battle of Pharsalus (9 August 48), it fought as one unit with the Eighth. After this battle, the soldiers were sent back to Italy to be pensioned off, but in 46, they participated in Caesar's African campaign. Some veterans were settled in Picenum, others at Histria.
However, they were reenlisted in 41 by Caesar's heir Octavian, who needed it to put an end to Sextus Pompeius' occupation of Sicily, which put the grain supply of Rome into peril. When this was achieved, the Ninth was sent to the Balkans, where it received the surname Macedonica. (An inscription referring to a ninth legion surnamed Triumphalis may prove that the legion was refounded earlier and fought in the battle of Philippi in 42.)
In 31, war broke out between Octavian and Mark Antony, culminating in the battle of Actium, where Octavian became sole ruler of the Mediterranean empire. He was called Augustus and was Rome's first emperor. The ninth legion, which had been present at Actium, was sent to Hispania Tarraconensis, where it took part in Augustus' campaigns against the Cantabrians, which lasted from 25-13 BCE. This was a very large war: among the other troops involved were I Germanica, II Augusta, IIII Macedonica, V Alaudae, VI Victrix, X Gemina, XX Valeria Victrix, and another legion, perhaps VIII Augusta.
The Ninth seems to have distinguished itself especially during the campaign of 24, and may well have received its honorific title Hispana or Hispaniensis in that year.
It is possible that subunits were transferred to the Rhine in 20 BCE and were active during Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa's invasion of Germania in the following year, but this is not proven and there are many uncertainties. If the Ninth was transferred to the Rhine, it may also have played a role during Drusus' campaigns on the east bank of the Rhine. However, an inscription (CIL V.911) mentions a soldier of VIII Hispana in Pannonia during the reign of Augustus, and it is possible that the legion was in fact not stationed on the Rhine, but on the Danube or in Aquileia.
What is certain, however, is that in the confused months after the Roman defeat in the Teutoburg Forest (September 9 CE), the legion was at Pannonia, where it is firmly attested in 14, the year of the death of Augustus. Here, in the city of Siscia (modern Sisak) on the confluence of the rivers Colapis (Kulpa) and Savus (Sava), it permanently stayed until 43. The only known exception is that (subunits of) VIIII Hispana were sent to Africa and Mauretania to support III Augusta in its struggle against the tribal warriors of Tacfarinas (21-24). The legion was commanded by one Publius Cornelius Scipio, who received a monument along the Cardo of Lepcis Magna.
In 43, the emperor Claudius invaded Britain with II Augusta, VIIII Hispana, XIV Gemina and XX Valeria Victrix. The Ninth, commanded by Aulus Plautius, was first stationed in two camps at Longthorpe and Newton-on-Trent. According to our sources, it suffered very heavy losses (about a third of its strength) during the revolt of queen Boudicca (60). However, its commander, Quintus Petillius Cerialis, could continue his career, which suggests that he and his men had behaved honorably. Reinforcements were shipped in from the German provinces. In 65, it was regrouped on one site, Lincoln, but six years later, it was transferred to York, where it had to guard the northern frontier of Roman Britain and replaced II Adiutrix.