Legio III Gallica

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Two bulls, symbol of the III Gallica, bearing the legion standard LEG III GAL. Coin of Elagabalus

Legio III Gallica was a Roman legion levied by Julius Caesar around 49 BC, for his civil war against the conservative republicans led by Pompey. The cognomen Gallica suggests that recruits were originally from the Gallic Roman provinces. The legion was still active in Egypt in the early 4th century. The legion's symbol was a bull.

The legion took part in all Julius Caesar's campaigns against his enemies, including the battles of Pharsalus and Munda. Following Caesar's death, III Gallica was integrated in the army of Mark Antony, a member of the second triumvirate, for his campaigns against the Parthians. They were included in the army levied by Fulvia and Lucius Antonius (Antony's wife and brother) to oppose Octavian, but ended by surrendering in Perugia, in the winter of 41 BC. After the battle of Actium and Antony's suicide, the III Gallica was sent again to the East, where they garrisoned the province of Syria.

III Gallica was used in Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo's campaign against the Parthians over the control of Armenia (63). Corbulo's successes triggered emperor Nero's paranoia of persecution and eventually the general was forced to commit suicide. After this, III Gallica is transferred to Moesia province, in the Danube border.

In the year of the four emperors 69 AD, the legion, and the rest of the Danubian army, aligned first with Otho, then with Vespasian. They were instrumental in the final defeat of Vitellius in the battle of Cremona and in the accession of the Flavians to the throne of Rome.

After this civil war, the legion was again sent to Syria, were they fought against the Judea rebellions of the 2nd century. They also took part on Lucius Verus' (161-166 AD) and Septimius Severus (197198 AD) campaigns against the Parthian empire, none with noteworthy success.

III Gallica played a central role in the early reign of Elagabalus. In 218, during Macrinus reign, Julia Maesa went to Raphana, Syria, where the legion was based under the command of P. Valerius Comazon Eutychianus. She largely donated to the legion, which, in turn, proclaimed emperor Julia Maesa's grandson, the fourteen years old Elagabalus, on the dawn of 16 May. On June 8, 218 near Antioch, Gannys, Elagabalus' tutor, defeated Macrinus and his son, with the help of the III Gallica and the other legions of the East. Valerius Comazon entered in Elagabalus court, becoming prefect of the Praetorian Guard and consul in 220
In 219, the legion, exausted by Elagabalus excesses, supported its commander, senator Verus, who proclaimed himself emperor. Elagabalus had Verus executed, and dispersed the legion. The legionaries were transferred namely to III Augusta, stationed in the Africa provinces. However, the following emperor, Alexander Severus, reconstituted the legion and redeployed them back in Syria.

III Gallica records them become obscure. Little is known about the legion's whereabouts, but, in 323, they were still in Syria.

One noteworthy member of III Gallica was centurion Lucius Artorius Castus.

See also: List of Roman legions

External link

livius.org account of Legio III Gallica (http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/iii_gallica.html)

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