The Quarta Italica

This page created 6 September 2014, and last modified: 4 July 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Quarta Italica is listed (15.31) as one of the pseudocomitatenses units under the Magister Militum per Orientem. Its shield pattern (14#12), under the matching label (14.m) Quarta Italica, is shown in various manuscripts 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 has a blue rim (red in W), another blue band immediately inside the rim (lighter blue in M, and absent in B), a yellow main field, a yellow boss, and a blue band encircling the boss with a blue "pillar" underneath. The pattern is thus similar to several other units in the Magister Militum per Orientem's list: the Prima Isaura sagittaria (15.33), the Transtigritani (15.35), and the Prima Italica (15.30). However, the basic "keyhole" shape produced by a boss with a "pillar" underneath is a very common motif in the Notitia, so perhaps not too much should be read into these similarities.

The only direct evidence for a Legio IV Italica would appear to be this entry in the Notitia; however, J.C. Mann, in A Note on the Legio IV Italica (1999, available here), notes that inscriptional evidence (CIL 5, 7989, image here) suggests that a "new Italian" legion was raised by Severus Alexander (reigned 222 - 235), and this could well be a reference to the Quarta Italica. Where Legio IV Italica was stationed before joining the Oriental field army is unknown - in 1923 E.C.Nischer (available here or here) suggested Sequanica as its initial posting, but even if correct, the unit could well have had over a century in another province since then.


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