Legion, Thundering

Legion, Thundering (Legio fulminatrix), the title of a Roman legion in the time of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, which, after the expulsion of the Marcomnanni and Quadi from Hungary, while the emperor Aurelius was pursuing these German tribes with a detachment of his forces (A.D. 174), was shut up in a valley surrounded on every side by high mountains, and both by the heat of the weather and the want of water was suffering more cruelly than from the attacks of the enemy, when suddenly, in this crisis, a shower of rain reanimated the Roman soldiers, while at the same time a storm of hail, attended with thunder, assailed the enemy, who were then easily repulsed and conquered. Both heathen and Christian authors agree in their relation of the principal circumstances of this event. The adherents of each religion saw in it the influence of the prayers of their brethren. According to Dio Cassius (Excerpta Xiphilin. I, 71, cap. 8), the miracle was wrought by an Elgyptian sorcerer in the train of the emperor; according to Capitolinus (Vita Marc. Aurel. cap. 24), it was the effect of the emperor's prayers; but according to Tertullian (Apologet. cap. 5; Ad Scopul. cap. 4) and Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. lib. 5, cap. 5), it was brought about by the prayers of the Christians in his army; hence the legion to which these Christians belonged was denominated fulminatrix. The letter of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, commonly printed in Greek in the first Apology of Justin Martyr, gives the same account with the Christian writers, but it is spurious. The marble pillar erected at Rome in honor of Marcus Aurelius, and still standing, represents this deliverance of the Roman arm — the Roman soldiers catching the falling rain, and a warrior praying for its descent. It is not, however, to be considered as a memorial of any influence exercised by the Christians in that event. See Milman, History of Christianity, 2:145 sq.; Mosheim, Eccles. Hist. I, bk. 1, cent. 2, part 1, chap. 1, § 9; Pressense, History of Early Christianity, p. 129. (J. H. W.)

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