Legio X Gemina
(Musei Vaticani, Roma) Legio X Gemina: one of the Roman legions. Its name means 'the twin legion'.
With the seventh, eighth, and ninth legions, the Tenth was among the oldest units of the imperial Roman army. They were with Julius Caesar when he invaded Gaul in 58 BCE and the Roman commander mentions the tenth legion in his accounts of an encounter with the Germanic leader Ariovistus (where Caesar states that he always trusted this unit completely). The soldiers of the tenth legion are also mentioned in the battle against the Nervians in 57 (where they saved the day), the invasion of Britain in the summer of 55 (where the standard bearer of the Tenth played a heroic role), and the siege of Gergovia in 52. The soldiers must have taken part in many other engagements as well. It is possible that the tenth legion was already called Equestris ('mounted'), because Caesar describes how he employed the soldiers as cavalry.
In the civil war against Caesar's fellow-triumvir Pompey, the Tenth fought in Hispania in the battle of Ilerda (summer 49). In the spring of 48, the soldiers of this unit served at Dyrrhachium. It was present in the battle of Pharsalus (9 August 48), and although the soldiers were sent back to Italy after the battle to be pensioned off, they also participated in Caesar's African campaign in 46. Finally, the tenth legion was present at Munda in Andalusia (17 March 45). On their way back, the veterans finally received land at Narbonne in southern Gaul (pictures).
On 15 March 44, Caesar was assassinated and a new civil war broke out. In the first round, Caesar's relative Octavian demanded a share in the leadership of the Caesarian party, in the second round Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus (the Second Triumvirate) attacked the assassins, Brutus and Cassius. To this end, the tenth legion Equestris was reconstituted by Lepidus (in the winter of 44/43).
Coin of X Equestris
by Marc Antony
In 42, the refounded tenth legion fought for the triumvirs in the battle of Philippi, where the opponents of the Caesarian party were defeated. After their victory, veterans were settled at Cremona in northern Italy.
The Tenth was now transferred to the East and participated in Marc Antony's war against the Parthian empire and his invasion of Armenia (36-34). In these years, the relations between Octavian and Marc Antony deteriorated, and this culminated in Antony's ill-fated Actium campaign (31), where Octavian defeated his fellow-triumvir. The tenth legion was among the troops that surrendered to the new sole ruler of the empire.
Inscription from Mérida (Spain),
mentioning a soldier of
Octavian settled veterans at Patras. However, the Tenth revolted and was punished: it lost its prestigious name Equestris. Veterans from other legions were added to the unit, and it was from now on called X Gemina ('the twin legion'). Octavian, now known as the emperor Augustus, sent the Tenth to Petavonium in Hispania Tarraconensis (modern Rosinos de Vidriales).
The legion took part in Augustus' campaigns against the Cantabrians, which lasted from 25-13 BCE and were intended to make the Ocean the frontier of the empire. This was a very large war: among the other troops involved were I Germanica, II Augusta, IIII Macedonica, V Alaudae, VI Victrix (which seems to have shared its base, perhaps near Braga, with our unit), VIIII Hispana, XX Valeria Victrix, and another legion, perhaps VIII Augusta. Soldiers of this unit and VI Victrix were among the first settlers of Mérida (pictures), Cordoba (pictures), and Zaragoza.