The Felices Honoriani seniores

This page created 12 April 2014, and last modified: 11 May 2014 (Froben image added)


The Felices Honoriani seniores is the second of just two auxilia palatina units listed under the Magister Militum per Orientem. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts 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 form of this shield pattern is unique in the Notitia. Given the depiction of unit standards as shield patterns elsewhere in the Notitia (e.g. those of the Herculiani iuniores), I am tempted to see in this a debased image of an auxiliary unit's signum (standard), with the two discs being undersized philarae (medallions), but there well may be other explanations that could be plausibly advanced. However, my conclusion is buttressed in this case because the shield pattern for the Felices Honoriani iuniores, under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence, also depicts a standard (in this case, of the Victory-type). One may compare the two shield patterns, as shown below from the patterns shown in the Paris manuscript...

Shield patterns

...with standards as shown on the Arch of Constantine, dated to AD 312-315 as a whole, but here re-using material dating from 2nd century:

(Left photo by PocklingtonDan, public domain; right photo by William Storage, used under CCA 3.0 license)

The name Honoriani refers to the emperor Honorius, who succeeded his Theodosius I in 395, around the time the Notitia was first compiled (he had however, been declared co-Augustus two year earlier, at the age of 7). Felices means "fortunate" or "lucky", and was a common moniker for Roman units; over twenty units in the Notitia incorporate it into their name.


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