The Equites stablesiani Africani

This page created 3 August 2014, and last modified: 3 August 2014


The Equites stablesiani Africani is listed as one of the Vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned to the Comes Africae under the label Equites stablesiani seniores. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts, under the label Stablesiani, 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 a number of concentric bands; working from the rim inwards, they are white, yellow, red (widest, main colour), yellow, indigo (faded to pink in M, W; white in B), and green (faded to yellow in M; absent in O, B); the boss is blue (purple in B).

The precise meaning of the name Stablesiani (pertaining to stables) in the context of the late Roman army is unsure. Various theories have been propounded; see my discussion herefor more information. Africani would appear to pertain to the unit's current station, although it should be pointed out that there is another unit of Equites stablesiani under the command of the Comes Africae: the Equites stablesiani Italiciani, and are clearly not stationed in Italy, so it seems more likely the name may instead refer to the place where the unit was initially stationed and/or raised.

Two pieces of inscriptional evidence for Equites stablesiani in Africa come from Sitifis (modern Setif in Algeria); one (CIL 8.8490) mentions an "equitum sta[bl]esianorum; the other (AE 1916.7) mentions an equitum Stablesianorum. Another inscription (AE 1937.35) from Thamallula (modern Ras el Oued in Algeria) mentions an eques Stablisanorum. Since all three inscriptions are dated to the tetrarchy, they presumably pertain toe the the Equites stablesiani Africani, and not the Equites stablesiani Italiciani, which is likely to have been a recent arrival in Africa when the Notitia was drafted (or updated). See: Philip Rance, "The Third Equites Stablesiani at Cyrrhus", Chiron 42 (2012), 347-360, available here, at page 348, note 5.

Given the names recorded for the unit, its full name is may well have been the Equites stablesiani Africani seniores.


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