This page created 8 May 2014, and last modified: 2 August 2015 (Italian papyrus reference added)
In the eastern half of the empire, the 14th of the 17 units of auxilia palatina under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence, the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, is listed (12.36 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the Felices Theodosiani. Its shield pattern (11#12) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label Felices Theodosiani (11.m), is as below:
The shield pattern shows a light blue ground. The boss is yellow with a red pillar beneath. Above the boss is a white face (orange in M, B) surrounded by orange hair or flames (more red in O, p), and thus presumably representing the sun. Many other shield patterns in the Notitia feature a visage atop a pole/pillar, but none look quite so sun-like as this one does; others tend to look more like heads impaled upon stakes.
Unlike almost all the other auxilia palatina under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, the equivalently-positioned unit under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I does not appear to be some sort of "sister" unit or some such. The equivalently-positioned unit under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I is the Felices Honoriani iuniores (9.37), whose nearest relation is the Felices Honoriani seniores, under the Magister Militum per Orientem (15.14). Further, the following units under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II show signs of some sort of manuscript confusion. The text of the list says they are the Felices Arcadiani iuniores (12.37), the Secundi Theodosiani (12.38), the Felices Arcadiani iuniores (again, 12.39), the Secundi Theodosiani (12.40), and the Quarti Theodosiani (12.41), whereas the shield labels proclaim them to be the Felices Arcadiani iuniores (11.n), the Secundi Theodosiani (11.0), the Felices Arcadiani iuniores (again, 11.p, and the Quarti Theodosiani (11.n), with no corresponding final label. Furthermore, the shield patterns for the last two (11#15; 11#16) are essentially blank, each showing just a quartered but plain disc. There is thus some evidence that some of the infantry shield patterns have been mislabelled; see here for more details.
The name Theodosiani evidently refers to the emperor Theodosius I, who died in 395, arround the time the Notitia was first compiled; many units in the Notitia are named after him, although some other units, in the western section, would appear to be name after later emperors named Theodosius. Felices means "fortunate" or "lucky", and was a common moniker for Roman units; over twenty units in the Notitia incorporate it into their name (the words also has an alternative meaning of "fruitful, fertile"). In particular, in addition to this unit of Felices Theodosiani auxilia palatina, there is also a limitanei ala called the Felices Theodosiani (71.11) under the Dux Armeniae, and another called the Prima felices Theodosiani (71.24) under the same commander, a limitanei cohort called the Prima felices Theodosiani (56/7.43) under the Dux Thebaidos, a pseudocomitatenses unit called the Felices Theodosiani iuniores (21.25) under the Magister Militum per Illyricum, and a unit of auxilia palatina called the Felices Theodosiani Sauri (9.41) under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I. Thus units named after Theodosius make up a very significant proportion if the units entitled "felices" in the Notitia; and units named after his sons Honorius and Arcadius account for nearly half the remainder.
The Felices Theodosiani likely be the same unit called the felices Theodosiani that is apparently recorded in a 6th-century Italian papyrus (J. O. Tjader, Die nichtliterarischen Lateinischen Papyri Italiens aus der Zeit 445-700; Lund, 1955, 16; a reference I have been unable to obtain), since several other units that are listed in the Notitia under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II are also recorded in 6th century Italy: the Regii (12.23), the (Comites) sagittarii Armeni (12.5), and the Daci (12.17).
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