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Legio I Pontica

Bust of Diocletian. Arkeoloji Müzesi, İstanbul (Turkey). Photo Marco Prins.
Bust of Diocletian (Arkeoloji Müzesi, İstanbul)
Legio I Pontica: one of the legions of the later Roman empire. Its name means 'the legion of Pontus'.

This legion was created by the emperor Diocletian (284-305) to defend the newly created province Pontus Polemoniacus, which corresponds to the southeastern shores of the Black Sea. Because this province already existed in 297, we may assume that the roots of the legion go back to the first decade of Diocletian's reign. The legion was stationed at Trapezus (modern Trabzon), which had once been guarded by XV Apollinaris.

I Pontica is mentioned in a dedication to Diocletian and his fellow emperors that can be dated to 297-305 (CIL, 3, 6746). It was still in Trapezus when the Notitia Dignitatum was composed, an early fifth-century list of Roman magistracies and military units.

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Inscription from Diocletian. Photo Marco Prins.
Dedication by the First Pontic Legion to Diocletian and his fellow emperors

The text of the dedication:

Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) C(aio) Aur(elio) Val(erio) Diocletiano Pio Felici Invict(o) Aug(usto) pont(ifici) m(aximo) tr(ibunicia) pot(estate) pat(ri) pat(riae) procons(uli) et
Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) M(arco) Aur(elio) Val(erio) Maximiano Pio Felici Invicto Aug(usto) pont(ifici) m(aximo) trib(unicia) pot(estate) p(atri) p(atriae) procons(uli) et
Fl(avio) Val(erio) Constantio et Gal(erio) Val(erio) Maximiano nobb(ilissimis) Caess(aribus) dedicavit leg(io) I P(ontica) vestra agent[e] Tr[o3]mud[o]
To emperor Caesar Caius Aurelius Valerius Diocletian, pious and lucky, the invincible augustus, pontifex maximus, with tribunicial powers, father of the fatherland, proconsul, and
to emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximian, pious and lucky,the invincible augustus, pontifex maximus, with tribunicial powers, father of the fatherland, proconsul, and
to Flavius Valerius Constantius and Galerius Valerius Maximianus, the most noble caesars, did your First Pontic Legion dedicate this [monument], prefect Tro...mudus being in charge.


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