The Sagittarii venatores

This page created 22 July 2014, and last modified: 28 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


One of the auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster is named the Sagittarii venatores; it is assigned to the command of the Comes Illyricum. Its shield pattern in various manuscripts is as shown 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 pattern consists of a yellow main ground with a brown bird, presumably an eagle (more red in P, M, and especially W), off-centred to the left with wings raised and facing to the right (except for 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 next unit in both the Magister Peditum's roster and that of the Comes Illyricum: the Latini.

However, it is evident that this might be the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it may have been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label may have been shifted from its proper place), although which pattern (if any) among those shown properly belongs to the unit is not immediately apparent. Since the next two units in the Magister Peditum's list have related names, the Latini and the Sabini, both named after Italian peoples, it might be these two eagle-embellished shield belong to them, while the shield ascribed to the previous unit in the list, the Sequani, actually belongs to the Sagittarii venatores.

The name Sagittarii implies (but does not establish) the unit was bow-armed, while venatores means "the hunters", which would seem to be a particularly suitable name for a bow-armed unit.


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