The Ascarii iuniores (East)

This page created 7 November 2014, and last modified: 7 November 2014


The second of the six auxilia palatina units listed under the Magister Militum per Illyricum is called the Ascarii iuniores. 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 pattern shows a yellow boss (blue in W) divided into 7 segments (8 in M, none in B) centring an 8-pointed yellow star in a yellow filed; the rim is broad and red. The star does not reach the rim, except in B, where the "rim" is so broad it is effectively the shield's main field. The small star shown here is unusual; the closest parallel in the Notitia is one of the patterns illustrated accompanying the western Magister Officiorum.

The origins of the name Ascarii are obscure: the only suggestion I have seen is that of Mommsen's back in 1889, deriving the the Greek "askos", meaning "skin, bag, hide", with the implication the unit was skilled in crossing rivers on them. A unit of Ascarii are mentioned by Ammianus (27.2.9) as capturing an Alamannic king, and plundering without orders, but the relationship of this unit to the eastern Ascarii iuniores is unknown.

Other units bearing the name Ascarii in the Nottia are the Auxilia ascarii, a limitanei unit under the Dux Pannoniae secundae ripariensis et Saviae; the Honoriani ascarii seniores, an auxilia palatina unit in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; the Ascarii seniores, an auxilia palatina unit under the Magister Militum per Illyricum; the Ascarii seniores, an auxilia palatina unit under the Comes Africae; and the Ascarii iuniores, another auxilia palatina unit under the Comes Africae. It is of course possible that the eastern Ascarii iuniores unit is one and the same as the western unit (and likewise for the seniores), but if so, the unit must have been assigned a new shield pattern upon transfer, since the patterns recorded for both in the Notitia are not at all similar.


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.