The Tertii Theodosiani

This page created 24 April 2014, and last modified: 13 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Tertii Theodosiani is listed (9.40 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the 17th of the 18 units of auxilia palatina under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence ("Magister Militum Praesentalis I"). Its shield pattern (8#15) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (8.p) Tertii Theodosiani, 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 shows a red-coloured ground with a thin yellow band outside, and then an indigo outer rim (missing in F, faded to maroon in M, W). The boss is the same colour as the rim (purple in B), and surrounded with a white ring. Underneath the white ring is a white pillar-like structure apparently supporting the white ring, while a black winged Victory appears at the 12 o'clock position above the white ring, except this feature is missing in P and F. The pattern is thus rather similar to those of the Primi Theodosiani, also under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I, and the Secundi Theodosiani, under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, except they have animals in place of the "pillar", reinforcing the idea that these units are part of a set. Nonetheless, the form of the pillar is unique in the Notitia.

The name Theodosiani almost certainly refers to the emperor Theodosius I, who died in 395, around the time the Notitia was first compiled; Tertii indicates this unit was the third of a series formed, or at least, named in his reign (in addition to the Primi and Secundi Theodosiani mentioned above, there is also a Quarti Theodosiani under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II). An outside possibility is the name commemorates his grandson Theodosius II, who became Augustus in 408, since the Secundi Theodosiani 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 very 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; see 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 Magister Militum Praesentalis I, if not necessarily that of the Magister Militum Praesentalis II.


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