Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Sign in to follow this  

How were armies raised outside of Rome?

Recommended Posts

I have a question that I can never seem to find an answer to.

How, especially during the civil wars, were armies raised outside Rome?

For example, I read that Brutus and Pompey gathered an army in Greece to face off against Caesar.  What I want to know is where did those legionaries come from?  Were they living in Greece?  In a colonia?  Did they side with Brutus ideologically and travel from Italy to Greece?  Were they actually Greeks and not Romans at all?  If so, why would they get involved?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

In 49 BC there were two legions in Italy (I and XV) both of which had served with Caesar and were intended for the war with Parthia. 

Pompieus was authorized by the consuls of 49 to raise troops in Italy, but Caesar moved so quickly that many recruits dispersed or joined his forces, and Pompieus was only able to salvage 30 cohorts of recruits (3 legions).  With these and legions I and XV (later re-numbered III) he sailed to Greece.

In Greece Pompeius formed one legion by consolidating the 2 weak legions that formed the garrison of Cilicia, and 2 legions from Syria joined later. These men had been serving overseas for some time (some for 6+ years).

Levies of veterans and Italian residents in Crete and the province of Asia formed 3 more ("stiffened" by 15 Caesarian cohorts captured in Dalmatia and a few Pompeians who evaded capture in Spain) so that Caesar says Pompey controlled 11 legions (110 cohorts) in 48 BC.

When Brutus crossed to Greece in 44 BC he took over 1 legion that was in Macedonia, 3 in Illyricum and raised 4 more from exiles, veterans and Italian residents in Greece (including the poet Horace), but he must also have recruited non-citizens in Macedonia and Asia as well.

Cassius later joined Brutus with 7 legions that had been in Syria, 4 from Egypt and 1 from Asia.  Cassius probably also controlled 2 or 3 legions of non-citizens recruited in Egypt, Syria and Pontus (legio vernacula) like Caesar's Alaudae.

Pompeius and Brutus/Cassius would have also controlled considerable forces provided by allied and client kings. Most of the legionaries were the troops that happened to be in the eastern provinces, bolstered by exiles and Italians who were residing overseas (there were few overseas military colonies prior to Augustus). Plus (in a pinch) non-citizen provincials.

In a Civil War commanders and recruiting officers are apt to overlook the details of a potential recruit's qualifications (viz Roman citizenship) or even his personal inclinations when they need men.  Afranius and Petrieus in Spain had one "native" legion. As did Caesar.  Recruitment of non-citizens (willingly or by compulsion) and forming them into "legions" was more common in the armies of Metellus Scipio in Africa in 46, and Sextus Pompey and Lepidus in Sicily after 44 BC.

See P A Brunt "Italian Manpower" for sources etc.



Edited by Pompieus

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Map of the Roman Empire