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Legio prima Italica (First Italian Legion') was a Roman legion levied by emperor Nero on September 22, 66 (the date is attested by an inscription). There are still records of the I Italica in the Danube border in the beginning of the 5th century. The emblem of the legion was a boar.

History

In the aftermath of the Roman–Parthian War of 58–63, Emperor Nero levied the I Italica, with the name phalanx Alexandri Magni ("phalanx of Alexander the Great"), for a campaign in Armeniamarker, ad portas Caspias - to the pass of Chawarmarker. The sources mention the peculiar fact that the original legionaries were Italics, all over six feet tall. However, since the Jewish Revolt broke out a few weeks later, the projected Armenian campaign never took place. Also, the governor of Gaul, Gaius Julius Vindex,rose in revolt in early 68, and I Italica was redirected there, arriving there just in time to see the end of the revolt. In the Year of the Four Emperors (69) after the death of Nero, the legion received the name I Italica, and fought for Vitellius at the second Battle of Bedriacum, where the Vitellians were defeated by forces supporting Vespasian. The new emperor sent I Italica to the province of Moesia in 70. They encamped at Novae (modern Svishtovmarker), and remained there for centuries.

During the Dacian wars of Trajan, the legion was responsible for bridge construction in the Danube. Building activities seem an expertise of the legion. Around 140 a centurion from I Italica is responsible for the construction of a section of the Antonine Wallmarker.

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius, I Italica was surely involved in the wars against the Germanic tribes that threatened to cross the Danube. After a long war, the Romans had conquered much territory on the left side of the Danube, and Marcus Aurelius had the intention to form a new province under governor Aulus Julius Pompilius Piso, commander of I Italica and IV Flavia Felix, but the revolt of Avidius Cassius in the East prevented the formation of the new province.

In 193, the Governor of Pannonia Superior, Septimus Severus claimed the purple, and moved to Italia. I Italica supported Severus, but did not move to Italy. The legion fought against Severus' rival, Pescennius Niger, besieging Byzantium together with XI Claudia, fighting at Issus. The First possibly took part in the Parthian campaign of Severus (198).

Under Caracalla, gain, in the 3rd century the legion took part in the construction of the Limes Transalutanus, a defensive wall along the Danube, which began near Novae. Under Alexander Severus, some vexillationes of the I Italica moved to Salonae, guarding the Dalmatian coast.

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