The Lanciarii Augustenses

This page created 7 October 2014, and last modified: 7 October 2014


The Lanciarii Augustenses is listed as sixth of the eight units of legiones comitatenses under the command of the Magister Militum per Illyricum. 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 features a red rim, a violet-indigo main field (more purple in B, light blue in W, and faded to pink in M), a yellow boss plus pillar beneath (both faded to almost white in W), and above the boss, a red human head (white in M). The motif of a "head over/on a stick" is very common in the Notitia, albeit not for legionary units; the only other example is also in the command of the Magister Militum per Illyricum: the Dianenses, although the Dianenses is more an example of "the exception that proves the rule", since the pillar in that case appears to be anything but.

While the name Lanciarii comes from the lancea, a spear suitable for both thrusting and throwing, this does not necessarily imply the Lanciarii Augustenses was equipped with this weapon, since the title lanciarii (or lancearii) had become the designation of elite guards in the later 3rd century; we even hear of mounted lanciarii, as attested by inscriptional evidence (AE 1981, 777) where the gravestone of one Aurelius Gaius describes him (in Greek) as an "ippeus lankiaris". There are a number of lanciarii units listed in the Notitia, some of which are obviously elite units, while some have no such indication.

The second half of the unit's name, Augustenses, would appear not to refer to an emperor ("Augustus") as might be first imagined, but instead, a locality named Augusta, such as the fort at what is modern Harlets in Vratza, Bulgaria, and that in the Notitia is listed as being the base of a Cuneus equitum Dalmatarum under the Dux Daciae ripensis.


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