The Gratianenses iuniores

This page created 18 October 2014, and last modified: 28 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


In the western half of the empire, the Gratianenses iuniores is listed as one of auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it assigned to his Magister Peditum's Italian command, under the name Gratianenses. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts (under the plain label Gratianenses in M, W, and B) is 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 shield has a red rim and an indigo-violet main ground (more purple in B, and faded in M, W, and especially Ff). The pattern's main feature is a head with light brown skin apparently mounted on a red pole (white in P, yellow in M); such a "head on a stick" motif is a common one for western auxilia palatina units.

However, it is evident that this might be the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it may have been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label may have been shifted from its proper place), although which pattern (if any) among those shown properly belongs to the unit is not immediately apparent. The unit is positioned oddly far down the list of units assigned to the Magister Peditum's Italian command, possibly indicating a recent transferral when that section was last amended, possibly along with the Marcomanni and the Pontinenses, the only two units below it on the list; the unit above it, the Placidi Valentinianici felices, would appear to be a new creation (or re-named unit) dating from 421 at the earliest, given its name - see the Felices iuniores Gallicani for details.

The name Gratianenses refers to the emperor Gratian (Flavius Gratianus Augustus), who reigned from 367 to 383; he was the senior western emperor from 375. Other units named after him recorded in the Notitia are the Gratianenses seniores, a unit of auxilia palatina under the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; the Auxilium Gratianense, a unit of auxilia under the Dux Moesiae primae; and in the eastern half of the empire, the Milites primi Gratianense, a unit of auxilia under the Dux Scythiae; the Cohors secunda Gratiana, a cohort under the Dux Palaestinae; and the Gratianenses, illustrated but not listed under the Magister Militum per Thracias. Also possibly named after Gratian is the Grati, another unit of auxilia palatina in the Magister Peditum's Italian command; the name "Grati" however has many other possible derivations.


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