The Secundani

This page created 11 October 2014, and last modified: 26 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


The fifth of the eight units of legiones comitatenses listed (21.19 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as being under the command of the Magister Militum per Illyricum in the eastern half of the Empire is called the Secundani. Its shield pattern (20#9) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (20.i) Secundani, is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

The pattern is very simple, showing just a yellow boss, a red rim, and an indigo-violet main field (more purple in B, and faded to pink in M; however, it is white in W). The same pattern is carried, albeit with embellishments, by two other legiones comitatenses in the same command: the Dianenses and the Lanciarii Augustenses.

The name Secundani is clearly taken from a legion bearing the number two, but it is not certain which. Legio II Traiana, under the Dux Thebaidos and Comes limitis Aegypti is a strong candidate, as soldiers from Egypt are known to have been send to the Balkans by Theodosius - other ex-Egyptian units are readily perceived in the eastern Magistri's troops lists because their legion numbers are more obvious, like the Tertiodecimani for Legio XIII gemina. Two other potential candidates are Legio II Herculia, under the Dux Scythiae and Legio II Adiutrix under the Dux Provinciae Valeriae ripensis, which are both reasonably proximate in terms of geography, and not obvious parents of other detachments; the latter was favoured by Nischer (1923, available here) since he considered the unit to a former pair with the Primani, which he believed derived from Legio I Adiutrix, but which I believe derives from Legio I Italica.

Other less likely candidates are Legio II Italica under the Dux Provinciae Pannoniae secundae ripariensis et Saviae, which is geographically close, but this legion that already has a surfeit of daughter units, and Legio II Flavia Constantia Thebaeorum and Legio II Valentiniana, both under the Dux Thebaidos; these however, have other, more easily distinguishable, detachments serving in the eastern field armies. Other Second Legions, such as Legio II Parthica under the Dux Mesopotamiae; Legio II Isauria under the Comes per Isauriam; and Legio II Augusta under the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam, must be considered to be very unlikely candidates.


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