Wild Boar In Italian Culture

Legions During Roman Empire

During the rise and height of the Roman Empire, wild boars were depicted in several military legions as a symbol of strength, the embodiment of the warrior spirit, and as a sign of humility. Three notable legions displayed this symbolism proudly on their emblems. In 31 B.C, the Emperor Augustus founded the Legio XX Valeria Victrix. The symbol of this legion was a jumping boar. However, the significance of the jumping boar is not clearly defined in history 1.

In 41 A.D, the Legio X Fretensis (meaning the "legion of the sea straits") conquered and occupied Judaea for more than a century. The legion made Jerusalem its new home and implemented a wild boar into their emblem as a way to humiliate the Jewish population 2. Founded by Nero in 67 A.D, the Legio I Italica displayed a wild boar as part of their emblem 3. Furthermore, the foundation of Milan is credited to two Celtic peoples, the Bituriges and the Aedui. The Aedui's symbol was a wild boar and the Biturige's symbol a ram. This is how Milan's symbol became a wool-bearing boar, an animal taking on a double form 4.

Novelty For Romans

From 80-523 A.D, the Colosseum played a vital role in Roman culture. Showcasing and hunting strange wild animals was a novelty for the Romans. These animals were exhibited to symbolize the vast power and extent of the Roman Empire. Wild boars were just one of the many animals that were showcased and slain at the Colosseum 5. Wealthy Roman gentry also established private parks that housed wild boars. These boars were partially tamed and trained to rush towards their owners during mealtime. What makes this tradition unique is that the keepers dressed as Orpheus, whose music abilities were known to charm the wild beasts 6.


  • 1 - Lendering, Jona. "Legio XX Valeria Victrix." Livius, n.d. <link>
  • 2 - Lendering, Jona. "Legio X Frentensis." Livius, n.d. <link>
  • 3 - "History of Legio I Italica". Legio I Italica, n.d. <link>
  • 4 - "Cultural Awareness: Milan." Two Worlds United, n.d. <link>
  • 5 - "Wild Animals At The Colosseum." Roman Colosseum, n.d. <link>
  • 6 - Laing, Michele. "The Boar In Art History." University Of Waterloo, n.d. <link>