The Felices Honoriani iuniores

This page created 12 April 2014, and last modified: 13 December 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


The 14th out of 18 units of auxilia palatina listed (9.37 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence (i.e. the Magister Militum Praesentalis I) is called the Felices Honoriani iuniores. Its shield pattern (8#12) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (8.m) Felices Honoriani iuniores, 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 form of this shield pattern is unique in the Notitia, showing a large winged Victory in light brown/yellow, and possibly intended to represent bronze (but depicted in grey in B) holding a wreath aloft and standing on a globe or disc; the boss is differentiated in P and M by being yellow; the main ground is red. Given the depiction of unit standards as shield patterns elsewhere in the Notitia (e.g. that of the Herculiani iuniores), this would therefore appear to depict not (the goddess) Victory as such, but rather the image of Victory as part of the unit's standard (signum). It is notable that shield pattern for the Felices Honoriani seniores, under the Magister Militum per Orientem, also seems to depict a standard. One may compare the two shield patterns, as shown below from the patterns shown in the Paris manuscript...

Shield patterns

...with standards as shown on the Arch of Constantine, dated to AD 312-315 as a whole, but here re-using material dating from 2nd century:

(Left photo by PocklingtonDan, and released into the public domain; right photo by William Storage, and used under CCA 3.0 license)

The name Honoriani refers to the emperor Honorius, who succeeded his father Theodosius I in 395, around the time the Notitia was first compiled. He had however, been declared co-Augustus two year earlier, at the age of 7, so the presence of units bearing the name Honorius does not therefore prove they must have been entered into the document so-named at 395 at the earliest. Nonetheless, the presence of large numbers of units named after Honorius in the western half of the Notitia, compared to very few in the east, is one of the clearest indications the eastern portion was not amended much, or even at all, after the death of Theodosius, while the western half was extensively updated.

Felices has a primary meaning of "fortunate" or "lucky", and was a common moniker for Roman units; over twenty units in the Notitia incorporate it into their name. Unlike almost all the other auxilia palatina units under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I, the equivalently-positioned unit under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II does not immediately appear to be some sort of "sister" unit or some such: as noted above, the Felices Honoriani seniores appears in the command of the Magister Militum per Orientem, and not that of the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, whose equivalently-positioned units is the Felices Theodosiani - its shield patterns is unrelated.


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