The Seguntienses

This page created 27 July 2014, and last modified: 30 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


One of the auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster is named the Seguntienses; it is assigned to the command of the Comes Illyricum. Its shield pattern in various manuscripts is as shown 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 pattern is relatively simple, with an indigo main ground (white in W, more purple in B, and faded to maroon in M and nearly to white in Ff) and a red rim; two curved crossed "figures" in red appear on the main ground, although I have no idea what they may be trying to represent. If I were forced to say, I would say they look like carnyces, although the tubes of these military instruments are somewhat straighter than what is shown on the Notitia pattern, and the bottom portion shown on the pattern curves the wrong way; so I would say they are nonetheless not carnyces. Although there is evidence that many labels attached to the shield patterns illustrating the western auxilia platina have been shifted from their proper places, it is not clear that this has happened to this unit; it may well be labelled with the correct shield pattern.

The name Seguntienses would seem to refer to Segontium (Caernarfon in Wales); presumably the unit was stationed there before joining the field army (see Burns, p 192). Although Segontium would appear to fall under the jurisdiction of the Dux Britanniarum, no unit associated with the place appears in his list, nor with the two other British commanders in the Notitia, the Comes Britanniarum or the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam. Indeed, archaeological evidence attesting to the fort's occupation goes into the 390s but not much later; i.e. just the time when the Notitia was being drawn up and edited.

Given the Roman habit of brigading units in pairs, it is notable that the next unit in the list of the Comes Illyricum, the Tungri, would also seem to have a British connection, in the form of the men under the Tribunis cohortis primae Tungrorum, recorded as being stationed at Borcovicio (i.e. Vercovicium, Housesteads on Hadrian's Wall) under the Dux Britanniarum. Interestingly, the only unit known for sure to have been stationed at Segontium is the Cohors Primae Sunicorum, from an inscription (RIB 430) dated ca. 200; this unit's name also happens to derive from the region of modern Belgium, just as does that of the Tungri.

Both Seguntienses and the Tungri have palatine status in the Notitia, albeit very lowly ranked: presumably they would have had pseudocomitatenses status when they were first drafted away from Britain, and had been promoted in the meantime (the composition of the force under the Comes Illyricum seems to best fit a date after Stilicho's death, in 408, which would give plenty of time for this to have happened; it is a curious feature of the Notitia that no auxilia units are attested as having comitatenses status; they are all either pseudocomitatenses, or palatina).


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