The Quarti Theodosiani

This page created 10 May 2014, and last modified: 10 May 2014


The Quarti Theodosiani is a unit of auxilia palatina under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence; it is the 17th and last unit of auxilia palatina is his list. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The shield pattern is essentially blank. It shows a pale blue ground with lines quartering it, but no boss are actual colour divisions. Note that I have rather arbitrarily shown above the pattern labelled Quarti Theodosiani in each edition; the shield pattern in the position corresponding to the textual entry Quarti Theodosiani is actually labelled Felices Arcadiani iuniores, repeating the name of that unit illustrated two position earlier. This makes little visual difference, for the "pattern" shown in the previous position is essentially the same blank quartered pattern (except in the Froben edition, B, where no pattern is shown at all!).

The correspondingly positioned (17th) unit of auxilia palatina under the command of the other Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence is the Tertii Theodosiani, which, like the Primi and the Secundi Theodosiani, features a winged Victory at the 12 o'clock position of the shield, and thus presumably the "genuine" pattern of the Quarti Theodosiani did too.

At first blush, the name Theodosiani seems to refer to the emperor Theodosius I, who died in 395, around the time the Notitia was first compiled (394 looks a good date); Quarti indicates this unit was the fourth of a series formed, or at least, named in his reign. However, serious thought must be given as to whether it instead commemorates his grandson Theodosius II, who became Augustus in 408, given that the unit appears to be listed after the Felices Arcadiani iuniores, which is clearly named after Arcadius, who reigned from 395 to 408. If so this would imply that the list of the Magister Militum Praesentalis I was drawn up quite some time after 395. Since this appears unlikely from other evidence, one must investigate closely the position of the Felices Arcadiani iuniores, and indeed, there is good reason to suspect that this entry is indeed in the wrong position, as described in the entry for that unit. Thus a naming after Theodosius I looks relatively safe, and with it, an early date for the list of the first Magister Militum Praesentalis at least, if not necessarily that of the second.

Why the shield pattern for this unit is essentially blank is more problematic. Almost all the units under the command of the Magister Militum Praesentalis I have a corresponding unit under the command of the Magister Militum Praesentalis II. However, the afore-mentioned Felices Arcadiani iuniores bucks this trend. The shield pattern ascribed to it mirrors the correspondingly positioned unit under the the first Magister; the Victores, but the unit title mirrors that of the Felices Arcadiani seniores, under the Magister Militum per Orientem. See here for more details.


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