"I am legion for we are many" origin

Does anyone know the origin of the quote

“I am Legion for we are many”

or some variation of it?

I am aware of an appearance on the BBC program Red Dwarf (episode: Legion), but suspect another origin.

Any help?

The Bible. I believe a man who was possessed by spirits said that to Jesus (or one of the disciples? I am ashamed at how long it’s been since I read the Bible). “I am Legion for we are many.” The name of the spirit that inhabited the man. Or rather, a lot of spirits.

A more reputable Bible scholar will be along shortly to be more specific, I am sure.

Whoa, I’m not the most reputable one in here, am I? Matthew 8:28 has the story, but Mark 5:9 has the story and the quote.

And he asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

The bible… ahh yes, that obscure text. :wink:

Many Thanks.


It was a clever name, given that the locals of that time and place would have been familiar with the Roman legion, a unit of six thousand soldiers total when at full strength.

IIRC, this line was used in The Exorcist too.

and I think it was in Thief Of Time by Terry Pratchett aswell.

And it was in an old TV miniseries (written by Christopher Isherwood) called “Frankenstein: The True Story.” (Pretty cool and somewhat odd interpretation of the story, with tons of great guest stars.) It’s what the “monster” says after reading the Bible, because he realizes that he’s been made out of “many” people.

In an indirect way yes.

The Lady LeJean, who was an “auditor”, who have no concept of “I”. What one knows the others also know. When LeJean inhabited the human body, she took the name LeJean to indicate that the Auditors were indeed many.

The full quote in MATTHEW: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT is “I am legion, for we are many… but my friends call me Bud.”

Didn’t this passage also inspire John Milton’s name for the capital of Hell in “Paradise Lost”?

“A solemn council was held
At Pandaemonium, the high capital
Of Satan and his peers.”

From the Greek pan daimon (or the Latin daemonium) - all demons.

I once knew a fellow named “Legion”, and I always wondered if he was named after that verse - and whether his parents understood that verses meaning.

Are there any other people named Legion?

The Social Security Death Index, 1962-present, has seven people with the first name Legion. The 1930 U.S. census found 13 people with that first name. My favorite is Legion C. Fonkes.

The head bad guy in the (rather odd) Nintendo 64 game Shadow Man was also named Legion, and used the “for we are many” quote.