The Prima Maximiana Thebaeorum

This page created 6 April 2014, and last modified: 3 November 2014 (Froben image added)


The Prima Maximiana Thebaeorum is listed as third of the legiones comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Thracias. 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 patterns has a yellow boss (white in B) encircled by a white band (red in P) and then a yellow band. The outer rim is ted, with a blue band (white in B) immediately inwards, and then another band inward of that, which is shown as either black (O), blue (P, M) or white (W, B). The man field is white, and divided by two blue "propellors", with the edges trailing in such a way it looks like they are rotating clockwise (anti-clockwise in B, which being printed, reverses its almost all of its shield facings). This pattern is unique in the Notitia, although other "spinning" patterns, of different form, can be found in the cases of the Constantini Dafnenses, under the Magister Militum per Thracias; the Martenses seniores, under the Magister Militum per Orientem; the Ascarii seniores, under the Magister Militum per Illyricum; and the Armigeri defensores seniores and the Mauri Osismiaci, both in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

The Prima Maximiana Thebaeorum is clearly a detachment of Legio prima Maximiana under the Dux Thebaidos (stationed at Filas (i.e. Philae, now an island in Lake Nasser) in the Notitia). Legio I Maximiana was a Tetrarchic creation of Diocletian's in 296 AD, initially stationed in Alexandria, and named after Maximianus, Diocletian's colleague as Augustus. As no Legio I Maximiana is listed as being stationed at Thebes in the Notitia, the Thebaeorum in the Thracian unit's title apparently refers to the Thebaid as a whole rather than just the city itself, which is why it is likely that this detachment is additional to the one already stationed in Egypt, and that the same is the case for the equivalent Legio III Diocletiana detachment also under the Magister Militum per Thracias.

However, this shield pattern shown above is unlikely to be the same as that borne by the detachment still under the Dux Thebaidos, however. That of Tertio Diocletiana Thebaeorum looks very similar to that of Quinta Macedonica under the Magister Militum per Orientem suggesting these two detachments were posted simultaneously to the same command (outside Egypt) and thus received similar shield patterns, but were later separated. The Prima Maximiana Thebaeorum detachment is likely to have been treated the same way when it left Egypt. In particular, it bears a stylistic resemblance to another unit under the Magister Militum per Thracias: the Constantini Dafnenses, and it is likely a detachment of Legio secunda Flavia Constantia Thebaeorum, also under the under the Dux Thebaidos.

This unit is likely to have been one of the "Theban legions" that Ammianus refers (14.11.15) to as being stationed near Adrianople in Thrace in 354. There are five "Theban" legions in the Notitia:

Prima Maximiana Thebaeorum
Tertia Diocletiana Thebaeorum
Secunda Flavia Constantia Thebaeorum
Secunda Felix Valentis Thebaeorum
Of these, the Thebei in the Notitia is a western unit, and perhaps unlikely to have been in the east at the time; the Secunda Felix Valentis Thebaeorum had not yet been raised, and the Secunda Flavia Constantia Thebaeorum had probably yet to leave Egypt, leaving the Prima Maximiana Thebaeorum and the Tertia Diocletiana Thebaeorum as "the Theban legions".


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