This page created 24 August 2014, and last modified: 4 October 2014 (A.M.Kaiser reference added)
The Equites sagittarii Parthi iuniores 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 Parthi sagittarii iuniores. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts, under the label (Equites) Parthi iuniores (except in O, which mislabels it as the seniores), is as below:
The pattern is extremely simple, being plain red with a boss quartered white and back (black missing in B). Several other units have the same pattern, albeit usually with different colours, such as the Equites promoti iuniores, also under the Comes Africae, and which differs in having a purple main field.
The name sagittarii implies (but does not establish) the unit was bow-armed; while Parthi refers to the Parthian people, renowned horse archers, but who had been replaced by the Sassanid Persians as Rome's main opponents in the east in the 3rd century. The unit may originally have been recruited from Parthians, but note that the legions named Parthica are known to have been so-named in the late 2nd century in anticipation of fighting the Parthians. An alternative explanation, although perhaps less likely, is that the unit was particularly skilled in the "Parthian shot" - the ability to shoot to the rear while riding away from the enemy.
Also assigned to the Comes Africae is the Equites sagittarii Parthi seniores; its shield pattern is completely different. In addition to the Equites sagittarii Parthi iuniores / seniores, other units in the Notitia bearing the Parthian name are:
Primi Parthi, a limitanei ala under the Dux Osrhoenae
Prima Parthica Nisibena, a limitanei legion under the Dux Mesopotamiae
Secunda Parthica, another limitanei legion under the Dux Mesopotamiae
Quarta Parthica, a limitanei legion under the Dux Osrhoenae
Sexta Parthica, a pseudocomitatenses unit under the Magister Militum per Orientem
Primi clibanarii Parthi, one of the vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I
Secundi clibanarii Parthi, one of the vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II
Quarti clibanarii Parthi, one of the vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Orientem
A vexillatio Parthusagittariorum was stationed in Egypt in the first half of the 4th century (latest attestation, 340-2; see A.M.Kaiser, Egyptian Units and the reliability of the Notitia dignitatum, pars Oriens (2014), available here, at p 6 and note 32); when it was split between seniores and iuniores units is uknown, as is its exact date of departure from Egypt between 342 and ca. 394-400, when the Notitia was first drawn up.
Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.