The Lanciarii Comaginenses

This page created 22 June 2014, and last modified: 22 September 2015 (map and commentary added)


The 4th of the 18 pseudocomitatenses units listed (98/9.134 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster is called the Lanciarii Comaginenses; it is assigned (102/5.110) to the Comes Illyricum. Its shield pattern (97#6) as shown in various manuscripts, under the plain label (97.f) Comaginenses, 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 patten features a red rim, an indigo main field (more purple in B, and faded to a pinkish maroon in M and W), and a green (faded to yellow in M) cross-shaped device with somewhat mushroom-shaped ends; this particular motif is not found elsewhere in the Notita.

While the name Lanciarii comes from the lancea, a spear suitable for both thrusting and throwing, this does not necessarily imply the Lanciarii Comaginenses was equipped with this weapon, since the title "lanciarii" (or lancearii) had become the designation of elite guards in the later 3rd century; we even hear of mounted lanciarii, as attested by inscriptional evidence (AE 1981, 777) where the gravestone of one Aurelius Gaius describes him (in Greek) as an "ippeus lankiaris". There are a number of lanciarii units listed in the Notitia, some of which are obviously elite units, while some, like the Lanciarii Comaginenses, have no such indication.

The name Comaginenses comes from Comagenis (modern Tulln an der Donau, in Austria), which fell under the military jurisdiction of the Dux Pannoniae primae et Norici ripensis, and which in the Notitia is given (145.24) as the location of a unit of Equites promoti rather than a legionary unit. Judging from their names, three other units of lanciarii also seem to have originated in Pannonia Prima / Noricum: the Lanciarii Lauriacenses (98/9.134), also under the Comes Illyricum; the Lanciarii Augustenses (21.20), under the Magister Militum per Illyricum; and the Lanciarii Sabarienses (98/9.028), in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, as these all have names deriving from garrison stations under the Dux Pannoniae primae et Norici ripensis. Since there are four limitanei legions under the Dux, it would appear likely that each of these four units is derived from one of the four legions under the Dux. Since Legio II Italica appears to have been headquartered (145.27) at Lauriacum, it is almost certainly the progenitor of the Lanciarii Lauriacenses. Which of Legio I Noricum, Legio X Gemina and Legio XIV Gemina correspond to the other three units is less obvious.

Lanciarii locations

However, looking at the locations of the legionary detachments stationed along the Danube in what is now Austria gives a reasonable indication that the Lanciarii Augustenses is most likely to derive from Legio I Noricum, since Augustiana ("a" in the above map) is most closely positioned to a detachment of that legion, while the Lanciarii Comaginenses is most likely to derive from Legio X gemina, since Comagina ("c" in the above map) is most closely positioned to a detachment of that legion, leaving the Lanciarii Sabarienses to Legio XIV gemina, which is most closely position to Savaria ("s" in the above map).


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