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A Note on the Mutiny of the Pannonian Legions in A.D. 14

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

J. J. Wilkes
University of Birmingham


The origins of the unrest among the Pannonian legions in A.D. 14 are easily discerned. The great war in Illyricum of A.D. 6–9 involved the legions in a series of extremely arduous campaigns extending across the western half of the Balkan Peninsula, in particular the impenetrable forests of Bosnia and the rugged karst of Dalmatia. The nearness of this area to Italy made the war a great crisis in the reign of Augustus: conquest of Illyricum was the keystone of Augustus' northern frontier policy and no efforts were spared to achieve this. Advances in Germany could be determined from expediency but the subjugation of the Bosnian tribes was a necessity. During the war the need for men was so great that conscription was introduced in Italy and even freedmen were enlisted when ordinary citizen volunteers were not forthcoming. Cassius Dio speaks of the low morale and outbreaks of mutiny in the army of Tiberius during the last season of the war.

Copyright © The Classical Association 1963

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page 268 note 1 Vell. Pat. 2. 110f.Google Scholar

page 268 note 2 Cassius Dio 56. 12f., where he records that Tiberius was afraid of a mutiny if he kept his legions together in a single force.

page 268 note 3 Tac. Ann. 1. 1630Google Scholar. Augustus died on 19 August A.D. 14, but his death was kept a secret by Livia to enable Tiberius to return from Illyricum; cf. ibid. 1. 5. The mutiny in Pannonia broke out only when the death of Augustus was made known, and this news can hardly have reached Pannonia until early September. Drusus must have left Rome to deal with the mutiny before the session of the Senate on the 17 September when Tiberius was formally adopted as princeps. As Schmitt, H. has pointed out (Historia vii [1958], 378ff.Google Scholar) he can hardly have set out after this date and have reached Pannonia in time for the eclipse of the moon in the early hours of the 27 September which so daunted the mutineers (Tac. Ann. 1. 28).Google Scholar

page 268 note 4 Ann. 1. 17.Google Scholar

page 269 note 1 On VIIII Hispana and XV Apollinaris, see Ritterling, E., R.-E. xii (1925)Google Scholar, 1665 and 1747–8, s.v. legio. VIIIGoogle ScholarAugusta appears to have been for some time in the East, some of its veterans being settled at Berytus in 14 B.C. Syme, , J.R.S. xxiii (1933), 3031 and n. 116, suggests that it may have been in the Moesian army by A.D. 6.Google Scholar

page 269 note 2 Ann. 1. 20.Google Scholar

page 269 note 3 VIII is well attested at Poetovio: C.I.L. iii. 4060Google Scholar (centurion), 10879 (eques from Cremona), 10878 (a single instance of a veteran, from Cremona). VIIII is a problem: the only possible record of this formation in Illyricum is from Gardun, the camp of VII near Salonae in Dalmatia, , C.I.L. iii. 13977Google Scholar, Sex. Cornelius Sex f. Camilla nonanus veter [… cited by Ritterling, , op. cit. 1665Google Scholar. On strategic grounds one cannot imagine that there was no legion at Siscia in the years immediately following the war of A.D. 6–9. On the main route to the East, it lay near the mouth of important valleys leading into the heart of western Bosnia. Most of the records of XV from this period occur in north-east Italy: C.I.L. v. 3357, 3373, and 3379Google Scholar (?), all from Verona. Veterans settled at Aquileia, cf. p. 270 n. 4. The legion was moved to Carnuntum very early in the reign of Tiberius, and the coincidence of this move with the founding of the colony at Emona, where archaeological evidence has suggested the earlier presence of a legion, makes it likely that Emona was its station at the time of the mutiny. Cf. Saria, B., Laureae Aquincenses i (1938), 245Google Scholar ff., and more recently in Historia i (1950), 454 f. Certainly the legion cannot have remained at Emona once the colony had been established.Google Scholar

page 269 note 4 Pliny, , N.H. 3. 147Google Scholar, colonia Aemona; C.I.L. ii. 6087Google Scholar, v. 7047, vi. 2518, 2718, 32526, Iulia Emona. It was enrolled in the tribe Claudia. The older view that Emona was founded in 34 B.C. by Octavian after his first Balkan campaign in Iapydia and the upper Save valley (cf. Mommsen, , C.I.L. iii. 489;Google Scholar still retained by C.A.H. x. 88)Google Scholar is not supported by any evidence. The archaeological evidence for a legionary fortress having preceded the colonia is based on the partial plan of the city recovered by Schmid, W. by large-scale excavation before the First World War, Jhb. f. Alt. vii (1913), 96ff.Google Scholar; for subsequent work cf. Saria, B., Historia, loc. cit. The key inscription from Emona is fragmentary: the first fragment, found in 1887Google Scholar, was published with restoration by Hirschfeld, O. as C.I.L. iii. 10768Google Scholar. The second, and smaller, fragment was found by Schmid and served to establish the correctness of Hirschfeld's restoration, cf. Cuntz, O., Jhb.f. Alt. vii (1913), 195Google Scholar n. 5 and figs. 47–5. [imp. Caesar divi f.] Augustu[s pont. max. cos. xiii imb. xxi trib. potest.] xxxvii pate[r patriae Ti. C]aesar [divi Au]gusti f. Augu[stus po]nt. max. c[os. ii imp.] vi trib. potest. xv[i] m[urum …] dederunt. The terminus post quem for the inscription is 10 March A.D. 15 when Tiberius became pontifex maximus. It cannot be later than Tiberius' seventh imperial acclamation, which Cuntz, , loc. cit.Google Scholar, would date to April/ May A.D. 15. The titles recorded on the stone belong to the two months or so after the 10 March A.D. 15. The last line may perhaps be restored m[urum et turres] dederunt, although Cuntz maintains that there is insufficient space for turres. The formula murum et turres occurs on similar records from near-by Liburnia; at the Augustan colony of Iader (mod. Zadar), ibid. iii. 13264, 2907; and in the neighbouring municipium of Argyruntum (mod. Starigrad Paklenica), Oest. Jahreshefte xii (1909), Beibl. 49. The use of dederunt on the Emona inscription excludes any possi-bility that it belongs to the period when a legion was based there. No emperor ‘gave’ anything to a military unit in the sense that he ‘gave’ walls or other amenities to cities in the Empire.Google Scholar

page 270 note 1 Pliny, , N.H. 3. 146Google Scholar. Early veterans at Scarbantia, C.I.L. iii. 4235, 4247Google Scholar, A.E. 1914, 5, 6, 7Google Scholar; and from Répceszemere east of Sopron, , C.I.L. iii. 4229.Google Scholar

page 270 note 2 Cf. Swoboda, E., Carnuntum 3 (Graz, 1958), 30, and p. 269 n. 3 above.Google Scholar

page 270 note 3 C.I.L. iii. 4192, municipium Flavium Aug(ustum) Scarbantia, and 4243, dec(urio) mun(icipii) Flav(ii) Scarb(antiae).Google Scholar

page 270 note 4 For instance veterans of XV at Aquileia, , C.I.L. v. 891, 917, 928Google Scholar, Pais, E., Suppl. C.I.L. v. 182, 1161.Google Scholar

page 270 note 5 C.I.L. iii. 3845 (I.L.S. 2264)Google Scholar, L. Octatius Tarquiniensis vet. leg. XVGoogle Scholar, T. Calventius T.f. vet. leg. VIII; 3847 (10757)Google Scholar, T. Varius T.f. Pap. Narbone vet. leg. XV; 3848, C. Vettenius [.f……] veteranus leg. [….Google Scholar

page 270 note 6 Tac. Ann. 1. 17.Google Scholar

page 271 note 1 I should like to acknowledge my debt to Dr. Jaroslav Šašel, of the Slovenian Academy in Ljubljana, who first brought to my attention the possibility that the Ljubljansko Barje might have been connected with the mutiny of A.D. 14.

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