The Victores

This page created 13 April 2014, and last modified: 15 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Victores is listed (9.38 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the 15th 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#13) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (8.n) Victores, 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 has a yellow boss (white in W) encircled by an indigo (O, P) or yellow (W) or white (M, B) band, which is in turn encircled by a yellow band (white in W). Encircling this is an indigo scalloped star (more purple in B, and faded to maroon in M, W) with 10 (P, B), 11 (W), 12 (O), or 13 (M) "points", which look more like bulbs (and which appear to have white centres in O, P, and M). This "star" projects into a white field; the rim is the same colour as the "star". In the 12 o'clock position above the "star" is a small red cross (absent in P).

Three other units bear similarly scalloped star motifs, all in the eastern half of the empire: the Felices Arcadiani iuniores under the other Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence (but see here), and the Atecotti and the Matiarii constantes, both under the Magister Militum per Illyricum. Their shield patterns are compared below, using the pictures found in the Parisian manuscript:

Shield patterns

The name Victores ("Victorious"), although a common Roman military epithet, probably in this case comes from the name "Victor". This name was adopted by Constantine I after defeating Licinius, in place of his former usage of "Invictus" (see Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor; Paul Stephenson, 2009, page 216), after publicly espousing Christianity in place of the worship of Sol Invictus. It is notable that the shield pattern of the Victores bears (except in the case of the Parisian manuscript) a small cross above the central scalloped star shape overtly Christian symbolism is otherwise almost entirely absent in the Notitia.

Five other units in the Notitia incorporate the name "Victores". All are in the western half of the Empire:

Honoriani victores iuniores, a unit of auxilia palatina under the Comes Illyricum,
Galli victores, a unit of auxilia palatina under the Magister Peditum in his Italian command,
Victores seniores, a unit in the Magister Peditum's Italian command but not listed in his own list, and which is thus only presumably a unit of auxilia palatina,
Victores iuniores, a unit of auxilia palatina under the Comes Hispenias, and the
Victores iuniores Britanniciani, under the Comes Britanniarum, and possibly the same as the Exculcatores iuniores Britanniciani, a unit of auxilia palatina in the Magister Peditum's list but otherwise not assigned;
while two other units have very similar names:
Ala prima Victoriae, a cavalry limitanei unit under the Dux Osrhoenae, and
Cohors prima victorum, an auxiliary limitanei unit under the Dux Syriae et Eufratensis Syriae.
In Ammianus, "the" Victores are brigaded with "the" Iovii (25.6.3; 26.7.13; 27.8.7), but it is not clear which of the various Victores units listed in the Notitia (if any) this refers to; I would guess the Victores seniores (and the Iovii seniores), if I had to.


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
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