The Secunda Flavia gemina

This page created 6 September 2014, and last modified: 25 July 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Secunda Flavia gemina is listed (18.19 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the eighth of the legiones comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Thracias. Its shield pattern (17#3) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (17.c) Secunda Flavia gemina, 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 features a red boss (white in B) encircled by a blue band. Surrounding this is a yellow band, radiating from which are 7 (B), 12 (O, M), or 13 (P, W) spokes; the spokes terminate in a second yellow band giving the impression of the tyre of a wheel. The spaces between the spokes are green (faded to yellow in M, and white in W); outside the wheel's tyre is the shield's rim, which is red.

The shield pattern is similar to those of the Solenses Gallicani (18.28) and the Gratianenses (18.31.1), both also under the Magister Militum per Thracias, as well as that of the Britones seniores under the Magister Militum per Illyricum (21.6); a wheel image is also invoked more explictly by the pattern of the Secunda Britannica / Secundani (98/9.115), as can be seen below from the following patterns taken from the Paris manuscript:

Shield patterns

The name Flavia presumably refers to one of the (second so-named) Flavian-dynasty emperors, starting with the elevation of Constantius Chlorus as Caesar in 293, and ending with the death of Julian in 363. Accordingly, many other units in the Notitia carry the same name; among the various legions, those called Legio II Flavia... include not only the Secunda Flavia gemina, but also the Secunda Flavia Constantia Thebaeorum, under the Magister Militum per Orientem (15.22); the Secunda Flavia Virtutis (98/9.124), under the Comes Africae; and the Secunda Flavia Constantiniana (98/9.127), apparently under both the Comes Africae and the Comes Tingitaniae.

The moniker gemina shows the unit was in some way a "twin"; and indeed, the unit immediately preceding the Secunda Flavia gemina in the list of the Magister Militum per Thracias, and with which it was presumably brigaded, is the Prima Flavia gemina (18.18). However, earlier legions seem to have been given the moniker when they absorbed a large number of men from other legions (e.g. after disbandments), so in what way(s) the Secunda Flavia gemina and the Prima Flavia gemina were "twinned" can only be speculated at.

The similarity of the shield pattern of the Secunda Flavia gemina with that of the Britones seniores on one hand, and that of the Solenses Gallicani on the other, is intriguing. Given the clearly "British" Secundani and the Britones seniores both feature wheel-like shield patterns, it is tempting look for British connections in the other units. If the Solenses Gallicani represents an offshoot of the Solenses seniores, and that the Solenses seniores is an ex-British unit, then it might not be surprising that the Solenses Gallicani also carries a "British" themed pattern. The Secunda Flavia gemina might speculatively be connected with a British theme through having been (re)constituted from a British unit (or units) - perhaps Legio XX Valeria Victrix, if it was not involved with the formation of the Solenses seniores. Perhaps it was another detachment of Legio II Augusta, but which had been reinforced with men from the Twentieth. Nonetheless, these similarities could be accounted for in other ways, or even be just coincidental.


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