XXVII

GOOD-BYE AND APPLAUD US

At Mainz, the men of the 14th Gemina heard about General Cerialis’s night with his girlfriend at Bonn. The story would have generated lurid remarks, bawdy ditties, and ribald barrack room laughter. And they heard, too, that the Civilis Revolt was over.

The 14th Gemina soldiers knew what happened to Civilis after his surrender, but we don’t—Tacitus’s account breaks off at the bridge meeting. Pardoned, Civilis probably ended his days under house arrest in an island mansion at the naval base city of Ravenna, often the repository of surrendered foreigners. We never hear of him again.

The Batavian people didn’t suffer long-term as a result of the revolt. New Roman bases were built in their territory, and they would enjoy tax-free status for continuing to supply their young men as auxiliary recruits. Existing Batavian units weren’t disbanded, despite having been at the core of the rebellion—infantry cohorts were split, four going to Britain, others to the Danube frontier; the Batavian Horse continued to be an elite unit.

In the wake of Civilis’s revolt, fourteen legions now had all or some of their cohorts on the Rhine—the 1st Adiutrix also had arrived from Spain, to where Vitellius had exiled it after Bedriacum. For now, the trusted 14th Gemina was transferred down to Lyons in France, guarding the imperial mint until the Palatium could sort out who went where long-term. By year’s end the 14th was sent back to Mainz, its new permanent station. There, the legion underwent its twenty-year discharge in the new year of A.D. 71. Retirees collected savings from the legion bank and received their discharge certificates and their retirement bonuses in gold. Attending a final assembly, their general would have told them that theirs had been the most heroic enlistment in the legion’s history.

It’s most likely that these veterans were sent to Britain to repopulate the Colchester area allocated to their ill-fated 14th G.M.V. predecessors. As they marched off into civilian life, subject to civil law for the first time in decades and responsible for their own keep, their recent commander in chief, General Cerialis, also was embarking on a new career chapter. Not only had he been made a consul that year by Vespasian for his success on the Rhine, he was now Governor of Britain. Taking the 2nd Adiutrix Legion with him to replace the 14th Gemina in Britain, Cerialis arrived well into A.D. 71. He found the three legions already stationed in Britain lethargic and morose after three inactive years as spectators on the fringe of the war of succession. Things quickly changed under General Cerialis.

Tacitus tells us, in a brief passage in his Agricola, that the Brigantes had gone on the warpath in A.D. 71, inspired by the recent passivity of the legions in Britain and incited by the creation of a new Roman colony on their doorstep. The town of Lincoln, on the southern fringe of Brigantia, was granted colony status this year. Retiring Austro-Swiss legionaries of the 16th Gallica Legion from the Rhine, which discharged and reenlisted this year along with the 14th, probably settled there.

Tacitus says the Brigantes—led by their queen, Cartimandua—burned a Roman colony on their frontier, which could only be the new colony of Lincoln. Plus, unlike Boudicca during her uprising, they stormed a military camp—no doubt an auxiliary fort. The Brigantes relaxed after this success, says Tacitus. It seems that this took place prior to Cerialis’s appointment, and probably generated it. The Brigantic raid gave new governor General Cerialis an excuse to embark on a major campaign of conquest, with the dual aims of punishing the Brigantes—the largest tribe in all of Britain, according to Tacitus—and of changing Yorkshire’s status from allied kingdom to part of the province of Britain.

He launched a full-scale drive north, using the 20th V.V.—commanded by newly promoted Brigadier General Gnaeus Agricola—and probably also the 2nd Adiutrix and 2nd Augusta, leaving the 9th Hispana in the south. Quickly taking York, over the next four years Cerialis would occupy all Yorkshire, fighting a number of battles and extending the province’s boundary another hundred miles north, to the Tyne River. Queen Cartimandua, who had survived a coup attempt by her own husband, disappears from the record, possibly committing suicide. She was the last sovereign of the Celtic kingdom of Brigantia.

At Mainz in A.D. 71, before General Cerialis launched his British campaign, the 14th Gemina’s latest recruits came marching up from the north of Italy to take the places of the men who’d gone into retirement. The new men included eighteen-year-old Quintus Faustus from Pollentia; short, stubby Gnaeus Musius from Veleia, a future eagle-bearer of the 14th Gemina, and his brother Marcus, who would become a centurion; and Gaius Valerius Secondus, who would die at Mainz just a year before his enlistment expired. As these new recruits arrived, the legionaries who’d volunteered to sign on for another twenty years moved up into the legion’s senior cohorts in the usual fashion. Among those who chose to stay with the legion, signing up for new enlistments and being promoted several cohorts, were Legionary Cordus from Modena and his friend Gaius Vibennius, and Lucius Naevius from Turin, who now also had a brother in the legion.

Now one of the four legions of the Army of the Upper Rhine, the 14th Gemina was joined at its Mainz base by the 1st Adiutrix Legion. Both units had come in from the outside to put down Civilis’s insurrection, both had proven their loyalty to Vespasian. The units they replaced, the 4th Macedonica and 22nd Primigeneia, had sided with Vitellius, while their Rhine contingents had gone over to Civilis, and they were split up: one legion went to Dalmatia, the other to the A.L.R. The other legions now assigned to the A.U.R. also had marched for Vespasian; they were based farther up the Rhine—the 8th Augusta at Strasbourg, the 11th Claudia at Windisch, in Switzerland.

This same year, the Senate decreed that for their conquest of Judea and the taking of Jerusalem after a brutal siege, Vespasian and Titus were to be awarded Triumphs. That summer of A.D. 71, youngsters of the 14th Gemina’s new enlistment would have read theActa Diurnia the day it reported the emperor’s Triumphal procession through the streets of Rome. Vespasian, who’d arrived at Rome from Alexandria by October of A.D. 70, shared the day with Titus, with nineteen-year-old Domitian riding a white horse behind them, followed by seven hundred Jewish prisoners from the ninety-seven thousand taken during and after the siege of Jerusalem.

The costs involved in this celebration would have been kept to a minimum. When he arrived at Rome, Vespasian declared that three times the current revenue of the empire was needed to cover the expenses his predecessors had incurred during the war of succession. To pay the bills, he introduced higher taxation throughout the empire. At the same time, he looked at the Military Treasury. In A.D. 68, before Nero disappeared, there had been twenty-seven legions; now there were thirty-two. Nine new legions had been raised over the past thirty years—five of them in fewer than eighteen months during the war. Clearly, Rome didn’t need thirty-two legions. It certainly couldn’t afford them.

Vespasian was able to immediately abolish the two Legions of the Fleet because their men weren’t citizens and had no legal entitlements. He also combined the understrength 7th Galbiana and 18th Legions to create the 7th Gemina. But still more cuts were required. Vespasian’s Palatium set in motion the first planned legion abolition of the imperial era. The 1st Legion, Pompey’s onetime personal unit, sometimes called the 1st Germanica—apparently for its service in Germany—and also briefly titled the 1st Augusta, and one of the first legions to have gone over to Civilis in A.D. 69, was not reenlisted when its A.D. 74 discharge came around. Five years later, when the A.D. 79 discharge of the 15th Primigeneia Legion, another Civilis turncoat, fell due, it was likewise abolished.

Eighteenth-century historian Edward Gibbon wrote that the strict economy of Vespasian was the source of his magnificence. Vespasian’s economic reforms turned Rome’s finances around so well that within a few years he could embark on building programs at home and abroad, restoring the gutted Capitoline complex, commencing new temples and Rome’s Hunting Theater, the so-called Colosseum, and, from A.D. 73, converting the wooden buildings at legion bases around the empire to stone and brick.

Over the two decades following the A.D. 71 enlistment, the 14th Gemina Legion would perform a policing role while based at Mainz. From A.D. 74, Vespasian extended the German frontier past the Agri Decumates region, taking in the Black Forest, between the Rhine and Danube, and the 14th Gemina helped build a line of forts, the limes, along the new border, as new Roman settlers flooded in from Gaul and Upper Germany.

Two members of the legion who didn’t take part in this work were Legionaries Publius Cordus and Lucius Naevius, who died at Mainz in A.D. 74, apparently from natural causes and probably over the winter. Their gravestones tell us that forty-three-year-old Cordus had put in twenty-three years with the legion before he was buried by his friend Gaius Vibennius, while Naevius, who was forty-five, was commemorated by his brothers.

Vespasian died in the arms of his attendants in A.D. 79, at age sixty-nine, after a decade of strong rule in which he’d proven to be Rome’s best administrator since Augustus. Titus succeeded him but outlived his father by only two years, dying at forty-one. During his brief and benign reign Titus opened the Colosseum and had to contend with a fire at Rome almost as devastating as the Great Fire of A.D. 64, and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other Campanian towns.

In A.D. 81, Vespasian’s second son, Domitian, came to power as the eleventh emperor of Rome. His would be a fifteen-year reign of terror. In January of A.D. 89, a revolt against him by Lieutenant General Antonius Saturninus, A.L.R. commander, was put down by two of Saturninus’s own legions that he’d initially embroiled in his scheme. As a result, Domitian decreed that no two legions could share the same base anywhere in the empire, to limit the opportunity for legions to combine in revolt.

Many legions now had to find new bases. The 14th Gemina’s companion legion marched off to a new station in Pannonia, leaving the 14th at Mainz with just its auxiliary support units. The identity of the auxiliary light infantry with the 14th now is unknown. Batavians were never again billeted with the legion. According to Suetonius, another upshot of the Saturninus Revolt was a decree by Domitian restricting legionary savings kept in their legions’ banks to 1,000 sesterces per man, because General Saturninus had dipped into his legions’ savings to pay big up-front fees to German mercenaries who were to take part in his rebellion. By doing this, Domitian sought to reduce the temptation the banks offered other generals around the empire as sources of revolutionary funds.

In Domitian’s reign, the 5th Alaudae and 21st Rapax Legions would be wiped out in Moesia, during incursions by the Dacians, Sarmatians, and Iazyge Germans from across the Danube. The Dacians achieved their victories wielding their fearsome scimitar curved swords which sliced through legionary helmets like butter. Domitian would raise one new legion, the 1st Minervia, and increase the salary of every Roman legionary to win rank-and-file loyalty, from the 900 sesterces a year paid since the time of Julius Caesar—there had been no such thing as economic inflation all through this time—to 1,200 sesterces a year.

In A.D. 91, the 14th Gemina underwent its latest discharge and reenlistment and prepared to move home. As the winter of A.D. 91-92 approached, the new senior cohorts of the 14th Gemina marched out of Mainz and headed for Pannonia, where they would link up with the recruits of the latest enlistment. The legion settled into a new base at Mursa, modern Osijek in Croatia, on the Drava River in A.D. 92. Here, at the legion fortress, built on the heights overlooking town and river, the legion sat out the next six years, fuming at not being able to revenge Roman losses to the Dacians. Domitian’s inept leadership saw the fighting end with a humiliating peace treaty favoring the Dacians. But the 14th Gemina would be one of the units used in Rome’s avenging Dacian Wars beginning in A.D. 101.

Domitian was assassinated by members of his and his niece’s staff in A.D. 96, and the Senate replaced him with the elderly senator Nerva, who did no more than stabilize the empire and maintain order for the next two years, as something of an imperial janitor for the next tenant of the Palatium, Trajan. Spanish-born, the son of a renowned general who’d commanded the 10th Legion during the Jewish Revolt, Trajan, himself a general, had been commanding on the upper Rhine at the time Nerva died of old age. Trajan had rankled at the way Domitian allowed the Dacians to get away with the annihilation of Roman legions and detested the subsequent peace treaty in which Rome actually paid reparations to the Dacian king, Decebalus. As soon as he became emperor, Trajan began planning an invasion of Dacia, today’s Romania. Before taking up residence in Rome, he spent a year on the Rhine making long-range military plans, which would include raising two new legions—the 2nd Traiana, named after himself, and the 30th Ulpia, named after his family. As part of this buildup, in that year, A.D. 98, the 14th Gemina was posted across Pannonia from Mursa to Vindabonna, today’s Vienna, in Austria. There it began intense training.

In the spring of A.D. 101, once the latest enlistment of the Praetorian Guard joined him, Trajan launched his first offensive across the Danube, with ten legions. The second in command of one of his legions, the 5th Macedonica, was Trajan’s cousin by marriage, twenty-five-year-old Colonel Publius Hadrianus, or as we know him, Hadrian.

A peace treaty with Decebalus the following year, A.D. 102, ended hostilities. As most of the Roman army recrossed the Danube, the 14th Gemina returned to base in Vienna. But the treaty was broken by the Dacian king within three years, and in A.D. 105-106 the 14th Gemina was a part of Trajan’s army of twelve legions that swept into Dacia in two columns. Hadrian, a brigadier general now, commanded the 1st Minervia Legion.

This time, Trajan was determined to conquer Dacia completely. The 14th Gemina was involved in bloody fighting through perilous passes and along mountain ridges in the drive for the heart of Dacia. Trajan’s pincer movement resulted in the capture of the Dacian capital, Sarmizegethusa, and saw King Decebalus take his own life after he was trapped in the snow-covered hills to the east by pursuing Thracian Horse cavalry.

In A.D. 107, Trajan proclaimed Dacia a province of Rome, with a garrison of two legions. The 14th Gemina returned to Vienna, as Trajan split the legion’s province in two. The western half, the 14th’s half, became Upper Pannonia, with Carnuntum its capital. Aquincum, the future Budapest, became capital of the eastern half, Lower Pannonia—with newly promoted Major General Hadrian briefly appointed its first governor. The legion was in Vienna when it underwent its A.D. 111 discharge and reenlistment.

When Trajan died in August, A.D. 117, Hadrian succeeded him as emperor. But Hadrian didn’t follow Trajan’s policy of expanding the frontiers with offensive military operations. He immediately pulled back and consolidated Rome’s borders. His policy of consolidation was illustrated by the seventy-three-mile barrier the Vallum Hadriani, Hadrian’s Wall, built from coast to coast across northern England starting in A.D. 122 to keep out barbarian tribes from the north. From now on, legions such as the 14th Gemina would be mostly confined to defending the borders of their provinces against outside incursion and putting down occasional uprisings within them.

In A.D. 117—within months of Hadrian taking the throne—the 14th Gemina was transferred from Vienna twenty miles east to the provincial capital, Carnuntum, moving into the base it had occupied briefly from A.D. 67 to 69. The Carnuntum legion camp, built opposite a river crossing near modern Petronell in Austria, at the crossroads of several trade routes, had much changed since the last time the 14th was there. It had begun as a temporary camp created by Tiberius in A.D. 6. The first permanent base, constructed in A.D. 14, was extensively upgraded in A.D. 73, with its timber buildings replaced by Vespasian’s Palatium with solid structures of stone, brick, and tile. The men of the 14th Gemina found they even had an elaborate bathhouse for their exclusive use. As it turned out, Carnuntum was to be home base for the legion for hundreds of years to come.

If Hadrian was a disappointment to his legionaries, who wanted offensive campaigns for action, glory, promotion, and booty, he did have one lasting influence on them. Up to this point Romans had been clean-shaven, shaving every day with a semireligious fervor. Legionaries had been excused shaving for days or even weeks at a time while on campaign, but were always expected to later clean themselves up. Hadrian began the fashion of wearing a beard—to hide an ugly scar, according to Dio—which was taken up by all levels of society and followed by most emperors who succeeded him well into the fourth century. Increasingly, from this time on, legionaries wore short beards. Some emperors curled their hair and beards artificially with curling tongs, but within a few decades the fashion, adopted by legionaries, was for short, neatly trimmed beards.

From its base at Carnuntum, the A.D. 131, 151, and 171 enlistments of the legion were intimately involved in the grueling A.D. 166-180 wars waged by the emperor Marcus Aurelius against the Germanic tribes flooding across the Danube, the Quadi, Iazyges, and Marcomanni, wars depicted in the movie Gladiator, in which the Germans killed and took hostage hundreds of thousands of Roman settlers. Marcus prosecuted these wars with what he himself described as his “undeviating steadiness of purpose,” and to be closer to the front between A.D. 174 and 176 he based himself and his popular wife, Faustina, at Carnuntum, living in a temporary Palatium complex built a mile downriver from the 14th Gemina’s base. While there, Marcus found time to pen at least one of the twelve books of his philosophical Meditations.

At one point during these wars German tribes forced the legions back from the Danube, and the 14th Gemina’s base at Carnuntum was evacuated. Severely damaged by the invaders before the Marcomanni Wars ended in 179 with the tribes submitting to Marcus, the fortress was reoccupied and repaired by the 14th Gemina.

Marcus died shortly after, in March 180, aged just fifty-nine. Ill for some time, he passed away at Vienna, within miles of the 14th Gemina. He’d rarely been in Rome, spending most of his reign fighting to keep the barbarians at bay. Now his nineteen-year-old son and successor Commodus did a Hadrian and pulled back, terminating the legions’ offensive operations on the Danube frontier.

By 192, the Governor of Upper Pannonia was forty-six-year-old Lieutenant General Lucius Septimius Severus, who’d been a consul two years earlier and who probably took up his Pannonian appointment in 191 just as the 14th Gemina was undergoing its latest reenlistment. He sat on his hands when the tyrannical Commodus was assassinated in December 192 by a wrestler employed by members of the Senate. But when Commodus’s successor, the respected general Pertinax, was murdered by the Praetorian Guard the following March, Severus acted. On April 13, 192, the 10th Gemina arrived from Vienna to join the 14th Gemina at an assembly at Carnuntum. Here, General Severus announced Pertinax’s murder, blamed the Praetorian Guard, and demanded that the emperor be avenged, promising his men a hefty bonus if they marched on Rome with him. His young troops, who had only recently undergone reenlistment, not only swore to avenge Pertinax, they also hailed Severus as their new emperor.

Combining the 14th Gemina and the 10th Gemina with the legions stationed in Lower Pannonia, the 1st Adiutrix and the 2nd Adiutrix, plus auxiliaries, Severus marched on Rome, making record time, and surrounded by a bodyguard of his legionaries. At Rome, meanwhile, the Praetorians had auctioned the throne to a multimillionaire senator, Marcus Didius Julianus. As the Danube legions approached, the Praetorians deserted Julianus, who was executed in his Palatium bathroom on the Senate’s orders. Severus took Rome without a fight and was officially appointed emperor by the Senate in June 193. One of his first acts was to line up the men of the Praetorian Guard, disarmed and surrounded by his legions, and dishonorably discharge every man for Pertinax’s murder. From then on, the Praetorian Guard’s ranks were filled by men from the legions. Over the next four years, the 14th Gemina would have served in Severus’s campaigns against rivals for his throne, before going back to garrison duty in Upper Pannonia.

Augustus’s Palatium had initiated the convention whereby no legion could be based in its home province, but by the end of the second century, as Rome struggled to maintain the increasingly ragged frontiers of its empire, the legions began to be recruited in or near the provinces where they were based. This was partly for convenience but also because it was felt that legionaries would fight hardest when they were defending their own turf.

In about 193, Septimius Severus changed the regulation that had prevented legionaries from marrying during the twenty years of their enlistment, and also upped their salaries. Before long, legionaries at frontier postings were being encouraged to become involved in local agriculture and business when not on duty, to integrate them into local communities. How the old-timers of the first century would have sneered had they seen their successors three centuries later—locally recruited garrison troops, bearded, two inches taller than them on average but probably not as fit, part-time businessmen with legal wives and children living on their doorstep. Heaven forbid!

Hadrian had made Carnuntum a municipality, and Severus granted it colony status, and it’s probable the men of the 14th Gemina’s discharge of 211, the year Severus died, took up land grants in the district. Apart from the flourishing town a mile or so west, a separate, less salubrious community grew along the road leading south from the legion base, first populated by camp followers, now by legion wives and children.

During Severus’s reign, too, historian Cassius Dio was made a consul, and within a decade he came to Carnuntum as Governor of Upper Pannonia. He was already composing the eighty books of his Roman History. Neither Dio nor his legions saw any action of note during the term of his governorship in Pannonia. It’s there, in Pannonia still, with the 10th Gemina, that we find the 14th Gemina Legion in about 233 when Dio penned a list of the thirty-three legions then serving with the Roman army.

In 270, with the empire fast eroding at the edges, a new emperor, Aurelian, skillfully used the Danube legions—no doubt including the 14th Gemina—to throw back an army of Goths who had penetrated into Pannonia from the province of Dacia. The emperor then secured the frontier at the river by permanently abandoning Dacia to the Gothic tribes, resettling the province’s Roman inhabitants south of the Danube. The 14th Gemina would have subsequently served with other Danube legions in a 271 campaign by Aurelian, which recovered Rome’s eastern provinces from the armies of dynamic Syrian monarch Queen Zenobia of Palmyra.

The 14th Gemina would remain in Pannonia for the next century and a half, primarily as a border defense unit battling regular German incursions. Its new commander in chief in 293 was General Gaius Galerius, a future emperor. From 375 the boy emperor Gratian spent large sums upgrading legion facilities in the two Pannonias after the legions there proclaimed his four-year-old brother Valentinian II his co-emperor. As a part of this program the 14th Gemina’s Carnuntum base was totally and lavishly rebuilt. But, long-term, this was a waste of time and money. Twenty years later the two Pannonian provinces were abandoned by the western emperor Honorius in the face of advancing Visigoth hordes from Dacia. Combatting incessant attacks all along the empire’s northern frontier for decades, the Roman army had been hemorrhaging away. It seems that just twenty-four of the thirty-three legions of Cassius Dio’s day remained in existence by this time.

As the four legions stationed in Pannonia—still the 14th and 10th Geminas in Upper Pannonia and the 1st Adiutrix and 2nd Adiutrix in Lower Pannonia—fell back in stages to defend Italy, two of the three legions in Britain also were being pulled out. The last legion in Britain, the 6th Victrix, would come out in 406, and the Britons, like the Pannonians, would be on their own. The Italians would fare little better: the barbarians would be at the gates of Rome itself within four years of Britain’s final desertion.

In the spring of 395, as the 14th Gemina’s lead elements marched away from the Danube and the legion’s Carnuntum home of the past three hundred years, trailed by a sad refugee train of legionary family members and their possessions, legionaries with burning torches would have lit tubs of pitch spread throughout the complex. As the rear guard disappeared over the southern horizon, the legion’s new Carnuntum base burned to the ground.

From there, it was all downhill for the Roman Empire in the West. Once the brilliant general Flavius Stilicho, Rome’s Marshal of the Armies, was executed in 408 by Honorius, legions were soon overrun as barbarian tribes flooded into western Europe, down into North Africa, then across the Mediterranean to Italy. Alaric’s Visigoths were looting Rome by August 410. The 14th Gemina Martia Victrix Legion ceased to exist in the fifth century, swamped and wiped out fighting losing battles against the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Alans, the Lombards, and the Huns. Only one of the old-style legions would still be on record within a hundred years of Alaric’s sacking of Rome.

Since its foundation in 58 B.C., the 14th Legion had served Rome for upward of five centuries. What a variety of characters had inhabited the 14th Legion stage and played a role in its fortunes during that time. What a cast list to contemplate:

Julius Caesar, who raised it, and Generals Sabinus and Cotta, who died with it. The heroes of Atuatuca—Chief Centurion Balventius, who went down fighting, Centurion Lucianus, who died trying to save his son, Standard-Bearer Petrosidius, who heaved his eagle over the wall, then turned to fight, and die. The men of the second Atuatuca disaster, and young Colonel Trebonius, with his life-saving wedge formation.

Centurion Fulginus, whose ambitions died with him at Lérida. Greedy Governor Cassius, who went down with his gold. The anonymous centurion of the 14th who challenged Scipio before the Battle of Thapsus and paid for his audacity with his life.

Tragic, talented Germanicus Caesar, who led the legion on a quest for revenge, and who in death gave Rome the emperors Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. And Germanicus’s adversary Hermann, the young German freedom fighter destroyed by his own people.

General Sabinus, who took the 14th ashore in Britain and through the Battle of the Medway, only to perish in Rome trying to negotiate Vitellius’s abdication. Standard-Bearer Petronius, leading the way on the Severn, on Anglesey, and at the Anker, buried beside the Rhine after twenty-three years with the legion. Legionary Cordus, who survived the Battle of Watling Street only to meet a miserable death in wintry Wales. And their opponents—wily Caratacus, who led the 14th a dance for years, and Boudicca, whose gory vengeance lasted just weeks yet would be remembered for two thousand years.

General Paulinus, who led the 14th to stunning success and turned the legion into Nero’s feared killing machine, but who couldn’t repeat the performance at Bedriacum. General Gallus, who surrendered the 14th, only to claim the famous legion for himself after it had taken revenge on the Batavians. Civilis, whose revolt rocked Rome. And General Cerialis, famous and honored at last, twice a failure but the third time lucky with the help of the 14th, despite a rash streak and a German girl named Claudia.

But most of all, the 14th G.M.V. itself was the star of the show. Romans would always remember it as the legion that overcame its shame to seize everlasting fame.

When actors in the Roman theater had finished their performance, they would all come onstage and call to the audience, “Valete et plaudite,” which means “Good-bye and applaud us.” Say good-bye to the cast of the story of the 14th Gemina Martia Victrix Legion. Their performance is at an end. Applaud them if you will.

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