The Equites citrati seniores

This page created 28 August 2014, and last modified: 6 December 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Equites citrati seniores is listed (102/5.33 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the 21st of the vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned (102/5.238) to the Comes Africae as the Equites cetnati iuniores. Its shield pattern (101#11), as shown in various manuscripts under the label (101.l) Citrati seniores, 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 shield pattern shows, working inwards, a yellow rim; a purple band (somewhat faded to lilac in O, and to maroon M, W; in P it appears more indigo); a yellow band (much the broadest of the bands in P, M, and B); a white band (blue in O), a purple band (yellow in O, blue in W, pinkish in M), and a white bisected boss (absent in B, in which the last purple band is the entire boss). The bisected boss is found in only one other unit depicted in the Notitia: the Octavani (98/9.29), while the yellow and purple bands are also found in only one other unit: the Equites tertio sagittarii (102/5.30), and which is another cavalry unit listed under the Comes Africae.

The unit's name is rather poorly preserved in the manuscripts, although the printed Froben edition (B) gives the presumably correct name: Equites cetrati seniores, which refers to a small shield, a "cetra", and more classically a "caetra", and which was typical of Spanish light infantry in the Roman republican era. The word was used by Latin-writing authors to cover a multitude of shields smaller than a typical Roman "scutum", and while thus typically used for shields borne by light infantry, it also encompassed the heavy bronze-faced shields carried by Macedonian phalangites, which were however "just" 60 to 75 cm in diameter. It is possible the men of the Equites c[e]trati iuniores carried smaller shields than standard cavalrymen, but it is also possible that the name was anachronistic in much the same way that scutarii had become: scutarii had come to have a secondary meaning of "guardsmen" by this date, and not just "scutum-bearers". Other units bearing the name are the Equites c(e)trati iuniores (102/5.37), also under the Comes Africae; and the Mauri cetrati (98/9.107), under the Comes Illyricum.


1. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 26 October 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return


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