The Prima Flavia Metis

This page created 14 June 2014, and last modified: 14 September 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Prima Flavia Metis is listed (98/9.143 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the 13th of the 18 pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.147) to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command as the Prima Flavia. Its shield pattern (97#15), as shown in various manuscripts under the label (97.p) Metis, 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 pattern is relatively simple, showing a red boss (white in M and yellowish in B), encircled by a white band and then a yellow band. The main ground is red, and it is surrounded by a yellow band and then an indigo rim (these last two reversed in W).

A.H.M.Jones identified the title Metis with Divodurum Mediomatricum, the modern city of Metz in north-east France (it was certainly being referred to as "Metis civitatis" by the 10th-century at the latest, in a description of the life of St. Arnulf, who was living beneath its walls in the early 7th century). At the time of the Notitia, this city came under the jurisdiction of the Dux Belgicae secundae, but no such unit is listed under his command: almost all of his units had apparently been transferred to other commands by the time the Notitia was last modified. This is similar to how the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia (98/9.138) had been stationed at stationed at Constantia (modern Coutances, in France), under the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani before being transferred to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

Other units bearing the names Prima Flavia are the Prima Flavia Constantia (15.21), a legiones comitatenses under the command of the Magister Militum per Orientem (seemingly unrelated, as presumably raised by Constantine Chlorus); the Prima Flavia Theodosiana (15.24), another legiones comitatenses under the command of the Magister Militum per Orientem; the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia (98/9.138), a pseudocomitatenses unit under the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; the Prima Flavia gemina (18.18), a legiones comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Thracias; the Prima Flavia Pacis (98/9.123), a legiones comitatenses under the command of the Comes Africae; the Prima Flavia Augustae (141.30), a fleet under the Dux Pannoniae secundae; the Prima Flavia Raetorum (147.11), an ala under the Dux Raetiae; the Prima Flavia Sapaudica (156/8.36), a cohort stationed in Gaul, but not part of the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; and the Prima Flavia (59.28), a cohort under the Dux Palaestinae. As can be seen, "the First Flavian..." was a very common title borne by units in the 4th century!

Interestingly, the pattern in the Notitia that is most similar to that of the Prima Flavia Metis is that of the legio palatina unit called the Tongrecani seniores (98/9.24); the following patterns taken from the Paris manuscript show the resemblance:

Shield patterns

The Tongrecani seniores take their name from the Civitas Tungrorum (modern Tongres/Tongeren in Belgium), and thus relatively close by to Metz (260 km as the car drives), which in turn has a similar pattern to several other units with names originating relatively close by.


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.