The Latini

This page created 23 March 2014, and last modified: 26 September 2015 (Maxfield reference added)


The Latini is listed (98/9.69 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as a unit of auxilia palatina in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.97) to the Comes Illyricum. Its shield pattern (94#3), as found in various manuscripts under the matching label (94.c) Latini, is shown below:


Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

The pattern consists of a yellow main ground with a brown bird, presumably an eagle, with wings raised and facing to the left (right in B, which being printed, reverses the facings of all its shield patterns); it is thus essentially a mirror image of the pattern ascribed to the previous unit in both the Magister Peditum's roster and that of the Comes Illyricum: the Sagittarii venatores (98/9.68). However, it is evident that this is likely the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it seems to have been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label may have been shifted from its proper place). In this particular case, the pattern that should have been ascribed to the Latini is that (94#2) labelled as the Sagittarii venatores (94.b), and that (94#3) belongs to the subsequent unit in the roster, the Sabini (98/9.070). That these two units would then both feature very similar shields, yellow with brown Imperial eagles, would nicely complement their being named after two ancient Italian tribes: the Latini and the Sabini.

I used to think there was a chance that the Latini were the same as the men under the Praepositus militum Tungrecanorum (132.3) listed under the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam, since it has been postulated from epigraphic evidence that the cohors II Tungrorum milliaria equitata was awarded the unique title civium Latinorum, as opposed to the very frequently found civium Romanorum. However, not only does the existence of the Sabini argue heavily against this hypothesis, it turns out that what the epigraphic records states is not civium Latinorum but plain CL, which can be interpreted in other ways: see Valerie A. Maxfield, The Military Decorations of the Roman Army, University of California Press, 1981, at page 232 for a discussion.


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