This page created 3 April 2014, and last modified: 26 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)
The Leones iuniores is one of the auxilia palatina units listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster and assigned to the his Italian command. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:
The pattern shows a red boss with a red pillar underneath; an indigo main field (purple in B, and faded to almost white in W); a red rim, and a what appears to be a human head viewed face-on above the boss; the combination of a boss + pillar giving a key-hole shape. plus a disembodied head, is relatively common amongst western auxilia palatina units, but not as common as a head on a pillar without a visible boss.
However, it is evident that this is the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it has been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label has likely been shifted from its proper place), and this pattern instead properly belongs to the previous unit in the list, the Leones seniores. Rather, the true pattern of the Leones iuniores appears to be that from the next unit on the illustrations page, the Tubantes, the pattern of which is illustrated by various manuscripts as below:
These patterns are obviously related, and is one piece of evidence in favour of why I regard this portion of the illustrations to be mismatched by one place from their labels. Thus we can see the Leones iuniores and the Leones seniores have very similar shield patterns as the following patterns taken from the Paris manuscript should help to illustrate:
It is possible these apparently human heads are supposed to represent lion heads, and have been somewhat mutated in the transmission process of copying the original Notitia document into the now-lost Speyer manuscript from which all the surviving manuscript copies derive. If they are not lion heads, then there is a problem, because the poet Claudian clearly describes in his piece "In Gildonem" that the Leones that were fighting in Italy in 398 AD, just the right date for the Notitia patterns in other words, had a shield pattern that reflected their name: "the lions". What are clearly supposed to be lion heads elsewhere in the Notitia do look rather human, it must be said (see in particular, those of the Hiberi and the Thraces). The unit intended by Claudian was probably the seniores, but even if it wasn't, the problem is the same, given how similar the two shield patterns are.
An inscription (AE 1907,62) from the Golden Gate in Istanbul (and thus dating to 413 at the earliest) giving (in a mixed Latin and Greek inscription) a [...]U[.]ERI MILITUM PRIMO SAGITARIO[.]UM LEONUM IUNIORUM has been taken (e.g. by by Roger Tomlin, Seniores-Iuniores in the Late-Roman Field Army (1972), at p 272, available here) as evidence for the Leones iuniores, but if so, the formulation is extremely unusual, since the primary part of the unit's name would be the "Primi sagitarii", which is not at all hinted at in the Notitia. Indeed, I would suggest this inscription (if it refers to any unit in the Notitia at all, which I doubt) instead refers to the Equites primi sagittarii under the Magister Militum per Orientem.
Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.