The Prima Flavia Metis

This page created 14 June 2014, and last modified: 14 June 2014


The Prima Flavia Metis is listed as one of the pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster and is assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command under the label Prima Flavia. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts under the label Metis 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 is relatively simple, showing a red boss (white in M and yellowish in B), encircled by a white band and then a yellow band. The main ground is red, and it is surrounded by a yellow band and then an indigo rim (these last two reversed in W).

Jones identified the title Metis with Divodurum Mediomatricum, the modern city of Metz in north-east France (it was certainly being referred to as "Metis civitatis" by the 10th-century at the latest, in a description of the life of St. Arnulf, who was living beneath its walls in the early 7th century). At the time of the Notitia, this city came under the jurisdiction of the Dux Belgicae secundae, but no such unit is listed under his command: almost all of his units had apparently been transferred to other commands by the time the Notitia was last modified.

This is similar to how the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia had been stationed at stationed at Constantia (modern Coutances, in France), under the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani before being transferred to the to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

Other units with similar names are the Prima Flavia Pacis, a legiones comitatenses under the command of the Comes Africae; the Prima Flavia Theodosiana, another legiones comitatenses under the command of the Magister Militum per Orientem; the Prima Flavia gemina, a legiones comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Thracias; the Prima Flavia Augustae, a fleet under the Dux Pannoniae secundae; the Prima Flavia Raetorum, an ala under the Dux Raetiae; the Prima Flavia Sapaudica, a cohort stationed in Gaul, but not part of the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; and the Prima Flavia, a cohort under the Dux Palaestinae. As can be seen, "the First Flavian..." was a very common title to be given to a unit in the 4th century!

Interestingly, the pattern in the Notitia that is most similar to that of the Prima Flavia Metis is that of the legio palatina Tongrecani seniores; the following patterns taken from the Paris manuscript show the resemblance:

Shield patterns

The Tongrecani take their name from the Civitas Tungrorum (modern Tongres/Tongeren in Belgium), and thus relatively close by to Metz (260 km as the car drives).


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