Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday Search Challenge (1/4/12): Who found the lost Roman eagles?

Three Roman legions were strung out in a long line at least 20 kilometers long. It’s been raining and conditions are generally miserable. The trail through the forest is muddy, everything’s wet, the food isn't great, and life generally sucks for a soldier walking deep in a foreign land on an improbable mission of conquest. 

Suddenly, screams and battle cries come from nowhere.  Out of the forest flies a vicious attack along the entire length of the march.  With light swords, large lances, and narrow-bladed short spears, Germanic tribesmen pound the legionnaires, sweeping in from the forest, hacking and thrusting their way down the line.  

Rome’s finest fight back in a doomed attempt to save themselves.  Although the battle takes 2 days, in the end the three Roman legions, around 20,000 men, were utterly destroyed. 

Even now, 2000 years later, you can still find bits of Roman military equipment at the battleground, scattered along 20 kilometers from one end of the long line to the other.

In the battle, all of the three Legions' standards, their Eagles, were lost. 

Now, with that background image firmly in place, today’s search questions:

    1. Who found the lost eagles?

    2. Someone gave one of the eagles’ finders a posthumous honor
        in September.  What was the honor and who bestowed it?
        (And for extra credit, who was that eagle finder’s wife?) 

Search on! 


  1. Germanicus retrieved the eagles. His son, Caligula, renamed September after him. married to Aggripina the Elder.

  2. The first two were found by Germanicus (married to Agrippina the Elder. The third was found under Emperor Claudius, although I cant find exactly who found them.

    Germanicus's son, Caligula tried to rename the month of September to Germanicus in honor of his father, but the name didnt stick.

    I found the The Battle of Teutoburg Forest in Wikipedia by searching "three roman legions lost eagles". From there I learned about Germanicus. Then searched for "Battle of the Teutoburg Forest eagles" to find who found the third eagle. This lead to "" which told of the third eagle and the honor from Caligula. The search took about 5 mins

  3. I am into military history, so I know that it is the battle of Teutonburg Forest you are referring to.

    Of the three lost eagles, I believe two were recovered by Germanicus in 15/16AD, and the last in 42AD by Publius Gabinius.

    I'm not sure about the honor

  4. They were lost in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. 2 of them were recovered by Germanicus, 1 of them was later recovered by Publius Gabinius (according to Cassius Dio). The honor was Caligula, his son, renamed September to Germanicus when he became Emperor.

  5. Oh, and Germanicus's wife was Agrippina the Elder. It took me about 15 minutes to find the information. Finding the name of the battle came first, then Germanicus, then it took some time to find who found the last eagle. I found a footnote reference saying that "Cassius Dio, Roman History 60.8" documented who found the last eagle. So I searched for that and found an English translation.

  6. I wanted to make sure Roman Eagles wasn't a term for something else so started my search with [roman eagle].

    Clicked on the Aquila article on Wikipedia

    At the bottom was a list of lost Aquila. One of those listed 3 legions with links.
    9 AD--Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Legio XVII, Legio XVIII, and Legio XIX. (All recaptured)

    The articles under the Legions mention Germanicus recovering the eagles.

    Go to article on Germanicus -

    Answer 1 - Germanicus

    Answer 2 - In 37, when Germanicus’ only remaining son, Caligula, became emperor, he renamed September Germanicus in honor of his father.

    Extra credit - Germanicus married his maternal second cousin Agrippina the Elder.

    Time 12 minutes.

  7. 1. Germanicus Julius Ceasar, a grandson of Mark Anthony
    2. His son, Caligula, renamed September to Germanicus in his honor, when he himself became emperor.
    Germanicus' wife was his maternal second cousin Agrippina The Elder. (Agrippina the younger was one of their daughters).

  8. Posted over at LH as well...

    1. Germanicus
    2. His son, Caligula, renamed the month September to Germanicus.

    His wife was Agrippina the Elder

  9. 1. Sort of a trick question, as Germanicus only recovered two of the three eagles. Publius Gabinius Capito found the third.

    2. Germanicus is the one who was honored, by the Roman Emperor Caligula - who renamed the month after Germanicus in 37.

    EC: His wife was Agrippina the Elder.

    Found it in about 6 minutes, used a [three legions battle Germanic] to find wiki article on Battle of Teutoburg, and then read the articles on the legions involved to find Germanicus and answers related to him. Found Publius with google search of [third eagle Teutoberg] which gave me non-wiki results.

  10. Germanicus found two of the lost eagles, his wife was Agrippina the elder was granddaughter of Emperor Augustus.

    As far as September is concerned his son Caligula named September in honour of his late father. The second question was somewhat cryptic.

    Total search time: 10 minutes.

  11. I recalled a story about Roman DNA showing up in places it shouldn't have, so I searched "roman eagle dna" and found (among others)
    "A Roman Mystery - The Lost 9th Legion And The Silchester Eagle"
    The man who found them was: Reverend. J.G. Joyce on 9 of October 1866
    Darned it if I couldn't locate part 2 (or the extra credit, though I spent less than 5 min on the EC).

  12. 1.) Germanicus found 2 and Publius Gabinius found the last one.

    2.)Emperor Caligula had the month of September renamed "Germanicus"

  13. I copied "Legions' standards, their Eagles, were lost" and pasted it into Google. From there I went to Then Finally to

  14. "In 15, the eagle of the nineteenth was recovered by the Roman commander Lucius Stertinius among the Bructeri."

    Can't find specifics on the other two.

  15. Same search strategy as Russ, took a little longer to complete (10mins)

  16. It took me a long time to find the answer, because, as always I got distracted. I found this account of the unusual defeat of the Roman legions: and as it's about 9 pages, packed with detail it took a while to find the retaking of the eagles. Took so long I forgot about the third recovery, but once I knew it was Germanicus (Also the name of a Roman play by the French dramatist Racine) Wikipedia swiftly told be he married Agrippina.

  17. Another easy search - it took 5 seconds or so. (However it took much longer to read and check the answer to confirm I was right and get all the data).

    Search term used was: eagle Roman legion "20,000".
    That gives the Wikipedia article "Battle of the Teutoburg Forest" as the first hit - which looked good, although it's not the best written / clearest Wiki article I've seen. (One of the worst).

    In there you find towards the end that the first two eagles were found by men under the command of Germanicus in 14 and 15CE, several years after they were lost. Germanicus was recalled to Rome around 16CE (The note in the reference states: One Legion Eagle was recovered from the Marsi in 14 CE; the Legion XIX Eagle was recovered from the Bructeri in 15 CE by troops under Lucius Stertinius).

    The final Eagle was found in 41 CE by Publius Gabinius from the Chauci (a Germanic tribe who worked with the Romans).

    Searching for Publius Gabinus gives almost nothing (and there is no page on him in Wikipedia). However there's lots on Germanicus.
    "Germanicus married his maternal second cousin Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of Augustus" and also that their son, Caligula, renamed the month September to Germanicus in his honour, posthumously. (I did do a 2nd search "Germanicus September" as I hadn't read all the way down so as it gave the same wiki article I continued reading for the full answer).

  18. Badass of the Week has the story on Germanicus somewhere on file, and since I read that a few days ago, I knew the answer already. So I'm done.

  19. Found Aquila in about two minutes on Wikipedia, linked through to the Battle of Teutonburg Forest through there, and found Germanicus and Publius Gabinius from there. Clicked through to Germanicus to discover the September relation, and to learn that his wife was Agrippina the Elder.

  20. Germanicus Julius Caesar recovered 2 eagles in 16 CE and Publius Gabinius recovered the last in 41 CE

    Germanicus' son Caligula named september for him.

    Agrippina was Germanicus's wife.

    I found all this by a wikipedia search of Teutoberger forest, and then a follow up to the Wikipedia article on Germanicus for the "posthumous" honor.

  21. Lucius Sterninus recovered the XIX legion eagle in 15AD from the Bructeri

    Germanicus recovered another one in 16AD from the Marsi at the Weser Battle

    Publius Gabinius recovered the last one in 41AD from the Chauci

  22. Sorry, I forgot to say it took me around 40 minutes. I searched for google for roman germanic forest and I stumbled on the battle of the Teutoburg in wikipedia. Then I searched for lost roman eagles teutoburg. And I found that Arminius got the three after winning the battle against the Roman. Then I found that Germanicus recovered one but the question implied that several people found the eagles so I went on. I found that the Chauci had one. The website was helpful so were the Cassus Dio annales. On you can find a wealth of informations on the recovery of the eagles.

  23. 1. Googled "germany 3 legions romans", first entry was the Wikipedia Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Ctrl-F 'eagle', found that it was Germanicus.

    2. Wikipedia page for Germanicus and Ctrl-F for 'September yielded: Germanicus honoured; the month of 'September' renamed after him.

    E. Agrippina the Elder - Ctrl-F for 'married' on Germanicus' Wikipedia page.

  24. I attempted to do this without using Wikipedia which was surprisingly easy. It was so easy I at first no this can't be right it was too easy there must be something I'm missing. I learned quite a bit, and thoroughly enjoy the chase.