The Secundi Theodosiani

This page created 24 April 2014, and last modified: 8 May 2014 (Froben image added; name commentary updated)


The Secundi Theodosiani is a unit of auxilia palatina under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence; it is the 16th 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 shows a blue ground with a red circle surrounding a faded purple (?) boss which is in turn surrounded by a thinner yellow ring. At the bottom is a brown quadruped, perhaps a bear; while at the top is a winged Victory - at least in the two Munich manuscripts; this feature is missing from the Bodleian (O) and Parisian (P) manuscripts, as well as the Froben edition (F). The pattern is thus rather similar to that of the similarly positioned (16th) unit of auxilia palatina under the command of the other Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence, the Primi Theodosiani, which features a brown canid rather than a bear, and a yellow ground, rather than blue, and the Victory is present in all the manuscript illustrations. This would thus appear to be another example of a twinned pair of units split between the two Magistri.

It should be noted one other unit bears the name of Secundi Theodosiani in the Notitia, a pseudocomitatenses unit under (21.30) the Magister Militum per Illyricum. Is shield pattern is unfortunately not recorded.

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); Secundi indicates this unit was the second of a series formed, or at least, named in his reign (we also hear of Primi, Tertii, and Quarti Theodosiani under either the same commander or the other Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence. 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, and also here for more details. 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.


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