Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix
Nijmegen) Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix: one of the Roman legions. Its name means 'the victorious legion of Ulpius'.
The Thirtieth Ulpian legion and II Traiana Fortis were founded in 105 by the emperor Trajan, who was fighting a war in Dacia (modern Rumania). It was named after the emperor, who was a member of the Ulpius family. The number was chosen because the number of legions was now thirty.
The legion was first stationed in Brigetio (Szöny) in Pannonia Superior, which had shortly before been evacuated by XI Claudia. At least some subunits took part in the war against the Dacians. Because they behaved valiantly, the Thirtieth Ulpian legion received the surname Victrix, "winner".
Helmet of Lucius Sollionius
Super, soldier of XXX Ulpia
Perhaps the legion also took part in Trajan's campaign against the Parthian empire, which started in 115 and ended in 117 in the largest disaster that befell the empire in almost half a century. However, there is not much evidence for its presence in the east. It is more likely that only a subunit was added to XV Apollinaris, which certainly fought in Mesopotamia. The rest of the legion may have been active in construction work along the Danube. Many inscriptions are witness to this activity.
In the years after 118, the legion was commanded by Quintus Marcius Turbo Fronto, a personal friend of the emperor Hadrian who was given large responsibilities to pacify Dacia, which had become restless after the death of Trajan. XXX Ulpia Victrix must have done some police work.
Dedication to the Capitoline
triad from Xanten, by a
standard bearer of the
After 122, the legion was sent to Xanten -or, to use its Latin name, Castra Vetera- in Germania Inferior, which had been the camp of VI Victrix until it was transferred to Britain. Xanten was situated at the confluence of the Rhine and the Lippe, a river that was often used by the Romans to invade "free" Germania. The Thirtieth legion was to stay at Xanten for centuries; it was still there in c.400 and the civil settlement near the military base was for some time simply called Tricensimae, a dialect expression meaning "the thirtieth".
Germania Inferior is hardly mentioned at all in our sources, and inscriptions are our only evidence for the legion's activities. Military matters are almost absent, which suggests (perhaps falsely) that the region was quiet. An inscription from 164 mentions that a centurion rebuilt the sanctuary of Jupiter Dolichenus at Cologne; the same man erected two shrines for Mercurius and the Matres Paternae ('fatherly mothers'). Other inscriptions prove that the governor of Germania Inferior used soldiers of the Thirtieth as clerks. A subunit of 50 soldiers operated six kilns at Iversheim.