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Austrian reenactors of this legion

Legio quinta decima Apollinaris (Fifteenth Apollonian Legion') was a Roman legion. It was recruited by Octavian in 41/40 BC. The emblem of this legion was probably a picture of Apollo, or of one of his holy animals.

XV Apollinaris is sometimes confused with two other legions with the same number: An earlier unit which was commanded by Julius Caesar and met its end in North Africa in 49 BC, and a later unit that was present at the Battle of Philippi on the side of the Second Triumvirate and then sent east.


Octavianus (later Emperor Augustus) raised XV Apollinaris in order to end the occupation of Sicily by Sextus Pompeius, who was threatening Rome's grain supply. After the Battle of Actiummarker, the legion was sent to garrison Illyricum, where it probably remained until 6 BC, though it might have seen action in the Cantabrian Wars.

In 6 BC, Apollinaris was part of the huge campaign by Emperor Tiberius against the Marcomanni that was obstructed by a revolt in Pannonia. Apollinaris saw a good deal of fighting in the suppression of the revolt. It was most likely this legion that built the Colonia Iulia Aemona. By 9 the legion was headquartered in Pannonia, in the town of Carnuntummarker.

There the unit stayed until sent to Syria and possibly Armeniamarker by Nero in 61 or 62, these territories newly conquered from the Parthians. After the conclusion of the war with Parthia, the legion was sent to Alexandriamarker but soon found itself engaged in the fierce fighting of the First Jewish Revolt, capturing the towns of Jotapatamarker and Gamlamarker. It was the Fifteenth that captured the Jewish general later to become famous as the historian Josephus. During this period the legion was commanded by Titus, who would later become Emperor.

After the suppression of the revolt, the legion returned to Carnuntum and rebuilt its fortress. Elements of the XVth fought in the Dacian Wars although the main body of the legion remained in Pannonia.

In 115, war with Parthia broke out again and the legion was sent to the front, reinforced with elements of the XXX Ulpia Victrix. The legion fought in Mesopotamia, which was conquered by the Romans. After the conflict was over the unit stayed in the east with a new headquarters at Satalamarker in northeastern Cappadociamarker, with elements stationed at Trapezus on the Black Sea and at Ancyramarker, modern-day Ankara. From this base the XVth helped repulse an invasion of Alans in 134.

By 162, Rome and Parthia were at war once more; the campaign, led by Emperor Lucius Verus was successful, and the legion occupied the Armenian capital Artaxatamarker. In 175, the general Avidius Cassius rebelled against Emperor Marcus Aurelius, but the Fifteenth remained loyal and earned the additional title Pia Fidelis.

The history of the legion after this point involves more conjecture. As a unit stationed in the Middle East, it is almost certain to have taken part in later campaigns against Parthia, including the sack of its capital Ctesiphonmarker by the Romans in 197, and in wars against the new Sassanid power that arose in Persia thereafter, though there is no direct record of this. At the beginning of the 5th century, the legion reappears in history: it is still quartered at Satala and Ancyra, though having lost its post at Trapezus somewhere along the way, and is under the command of the Dux Armeniaemarker.

An inscription possibly relating to this legion was found in a cave in eastern Uzbekistanmarker, perhaps carved by soldiers captured by the Parthians and dispatched to their eastern frontier as border guards.

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