The Pannoniciani seniores

This page created 2 May 2014, and last modified: 30 September 2015 (Pannonian units section added)


The Pannoniciani seniores is the fifth of the 12 legiones palatinae listed (98/9.25 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.58) to his Italian command. Its shield pattern (92#6), as found in various manuscripts under the plain label (92.f) Pannoniciani, is shown 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 pattern shows a red rim (but white in P), a green boss, also rimmed in red, with the rest of the shield being what may best be described as an 8-spoked yellow wheel, with the spaces between the spokes alternating green and red (W has all red, while M has red and yellow; M frequently shows yellow where other manuscripts show green).

The name Pannoniciani refers to the two provinces named Pannonia. Presumably the original Pannoniciani were recruited from there or had been stationed there at some point (when the Pannoniciani seniores was differentiated from the Pannoniciani iuniores, which is listed (18.26) under the Magister Militum per Thracias, is unknown).

As the next legion in the Magister Peditum's roster is the Moesiaci seniores (98/9.026), this means they may well have been brigaded together with the Pannoniciani seniores, and indeed, many have seen Ammianus' mention (29.6.13) of "obviam legiones motae sunt duae, Pannonica et Moesiaca" as conformation of this brigading. But as David Woods says (see note 8), there "are several objections to this identification. The first must be that their titles do not actually match. Ammianus records the names of other palatine legions in the exact form that they have been preserved by the Notitia [...] Finally, it must strike one as a remarkable coincidence that the first two palatine legions to arrive in response to attacks upon the Pannonias and Moesia Prima should have been named after those very regions".

Thus it is likely Ammianus is simply referring to one of the limitanei units then stationed in the area. For example, the Notitia lists both Legio V Iovia (141.24, 141.26, 141.28) and Legio VI Herculia (141.25, 141.27-28) as being stationed in Pannonia II. But it is not even sure Ammianus' usage of the word "legiones" means a legionary as opposed to an auxila unit, as he also calls the undoubtably auxila palatina units the Iovii and the Victores "legions". Further, the Notitia itself lists two units of Moesiaci as auxiliary units stationed in Moesia II: the Milites primi Moesiaci, at Candidiana (76.15), and the Milites Moesiaci, at Teglicio (76.16), and there are three Pannonian auxiliary cohorts listed: the Cohors prima Augusta Pannoniorum (52.29), at Tohu in Provinciae Augustamnicae under the Comes limitis Aegypti; and the Tribunus cohortis tertiae Herculeae Pannoniorum, at Caelio (147.18) and the Tribunus cohortis Herculeae Pannoniorum, at Arbore (147.22) under the Dux Raetiae primae et secundae.

Ultimately, not only is there is nothing to link the Pannoniciani (seniores) with Ammianus' Pannonian legion beyond a name, there is also no reason to believe the Pannoniciani (seniores) necessarily derives from a legion stationed in Pannonia II at the time of the Notitia's compilation; the Moesiaci seniores after all does not derive from a legion similarly stationed in neighbouring Moesia I, but from Legio I Italica garrisoning Moesia II (and separated from Moesia I by the provincial command of Dacia ripensis). Thus, in addition to the nearby legions V Iovia and VI Herculia, one should also consider, at the very least, the neighbouring I Adiutrix and II Adiutrix under the Dux Provinciae Valeriae ripensis as possible progenitors of the Pannoniciani seniores.


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