The Equites citrati seniores

This page created 28 August 2014, and last modified: 28 August 2014


The Equites citrati seniores is listed as one of the vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned to the Comes Africae as the Equites cetrati seniores (this is the name it appears under in Seeck's edition). Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The shield pattern shows, working inwards, a yellow rim; a purple band (somewhat faded in O, and more maroon M, W); a yellow band (the broadest of the bands in P, M, and especially in B); a white band (blue in O), a purple band (faded in O, blue in W, pinkish in M), and a white bisected boss (absent in B, in which the last purple band is the entire boss). The yellow and purple bands ensure the shield pattern has no close match in the Notitia; the bisected boss is found in only one other unit: he Octavani.

The name cetrati refers to a small shield, a "cetra", and more classically a "caetra", and which was typical of Spanish light infantry in the Roman republican era. The word was used by Latin-writing authors to cover a multitude of shields smaller than a typical Roman "scutum", and while thus typically used for shields borne by light infantry, it also encompassed the heavy bronze-faced shields carried by Macedonian phalangites, which were however, "just" 60 to 75 cm in diameter. It is possible the men of the Equites cetrati iuniores carried smaller shields than standard cavalrymen, but it is also possible that the name was anachronistic in much the same way that scutarii had become: scutarii had come to have a secondary meaning of "guardsmen" by this date, and not just "scutum-bearers". Other units bearing the name are the Equites c(e)trati iuniores, also under the Comes Africae, and the Mauri cetrati, under the Comes Illyricum.


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