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Whilst I have a spare few minutes I thought I’d post up the below for your entertainment (Boy, I must be bored!)

Both Ammianus and Julian graphically describe the armour of Late Roman heavily armoured cavalry, and the descriptions are so similar that we must presume that they are describing the same thing (of course both writers saw what they were describing at close hand and therefore are excellent witnesses)-

Quote:‘And there marched on either side twin lines of infantrymen with shields and crests gleaming with glittering rays, clad in shining mail; and scattered among them were the full-armoured cavalry (whom they called clibanarii), all masked, furnished with protecting breastplates and girt with iron belts, so that you might have supposed them statues polished by the hand of Praxiteles, not men. Thin circles of iron plates, fitted to the curves of their bodies, completely covered their limbs; so that whichever way they had to move their members, their garment fitted, so skilfully were the joinings made.

Amm XVI 10, 8

Quote:‘Your cavalry was almost unlimited in numbers and they all sat their horses like statues, while their limbs were fitted with armour that followed closely the outline of the human form. It covers the arms from writs to elbow and thence to the shoulder, while a coat of mail protects the shoulders, back and breast. The head and face are covered by a metal mask which makes its wearer look like a glittering statue, for not even the thighs and legs and the very ends of the feet lack this armour. It is attached to the cuirass by fine chain-armour like a web, so that no part of the body is visible and uncovered, for this woven covering protects the hands as well, and is so flexible that the wearers can bend even their fingers.’
Julian ‘Panegyric In Honour of Constantius’ pg97

Ammianus also appears to confirm that the horses were also armoured-

Quote:Now that had happened for the reason that while the order of their lines was being re-established, the cavalry in coat-of mail, seeing their leader slightly wounded and one of their companions slipping over the neck of his horse, which had collapsed under the weight of his armour.
AMM XVI 12, 38

The above passage appears to indicate that the horses were armoured as well as the riders.

I have postulated that the terms ‘catafract’ and ‘clibanarii’ were a reference to the rider and horses i.e. the riders were the ‘catafractarii’, whilst the armoured horses were the ‘clibanarii’. I base this on some part on the description of what may be the ‘Currus Drepanus’ in action within Vegetius, where the Latin text calls the chariot horse riders ‘catafractos’, and the armoured horses ‘clibanarious’. Other Latin works I have call infantry in armour ‘Catafractos’, which to my mind states men in heavy armour, as other troops within the same works are quoted as just wearing ‘lorica’. I think that where ‘catafracts’ are mentioned then the writer is talking about heavily armoured men probably on unarmoured horses, when they talk about ‘clibanarii’ they mean heavily armoured men on equally armoured horses.

As to the arms of the heavily armoured cavalry, well, this passage within Julian’s works throws up a very interesting question-

Quote:‘So they charged again as though the battle had only just begun, and gave a wonderful display of daring and heroism. For some hurled themselves full on the enemy’s swords, or seized the enemy’s shields, others, when their horses were wounded and the riders thrown, at once transformed themselves into hoplites. The usurper’s army meanwhile did the same and pressed our infantry hard. Neither side gained the advantage, till the cuirassiers by their archery, aided by the remaining force of cavalry, who spurred on their horses to the charge, had begun to inflict great loss on the enemy, and by main force to drive the whole army before them.’
Julian ‘Panegyric In Honour of Constantius’ pg95

Quote:So, the ‘cuirassiers’ (the typical term for clibanarii by most translators) were armed with bows and do not appear to have charged into contact, rather caused a large loss of life by archery alone. Is there evidence that Late Roman Clibanarii were armed also with a lance?
'For when he reached the open country and the plains of Paeonia, and it seemed advantageous to fight it out there, then and not before the Emperor drew up his cavalry separately on both wings.
Of these troops some carry lances and are protected by cuirasses and helmets of wrought iron mail. They wear greaves that fit the legs closely, and knee-caps, and on their thighs the same sort of iron covering. they ride their horses like statues, and need no shield.'
Julian 'The Heroic Deeds of Constantius' pg153

I believe that Roman Clibanarii existed by at least the reign of Diocletian. I also have now come to the conclusion that 'Catafractarii' was the official term for heavily armoured riders on equally heavily armoured horses, and that 'Clibanarii' was the nick-name for them and that over time 'Clibanarii' became the term everyone came to know them by, similar to the situation where everyone call's modern tanks by their nick-name, which is of course 'tank', practically everyone having forgot what their official name is.

I offer the following as proof-

'XII Panegyrici Latini' Nazarius' speech also describes Clibanarii and I will reference it later because it may open a very old can of worms!!!

In the speech Nazarius gave in 321AD, 'Panegyricus Nazarii Constantino Augusto', he gives a description of the Battle of Turin. This is quite interesting in that it makes reference to both Clibanarii and Catafractos. It also indicates both types were possibly the same, and they do not pursue or follow up in combat.

Quote:'So many soldiers filled the open plain that he who saw them arrayed would not fault their confidence. What a spectacle that is said to have been, how dreadful to behold, how terrible, horses and men alike enclosed in a covering of iron! In the army they are called clibanarii: the men are covered (with mail) in the upper part, a corselet which extends down to the horses' chests and hangs to their forelegs protects them from the injury of a wound without impeding their gait (Clibanariis in exercitu nomen est: superne hominibus tectis, equorum pectoribus demissa loric et crurum tenus pendens sine impedimento gressus a noxa uulneris uindicabat).'

The description is of Constantine's opponents heavily armoured cavalry. I'm not sure if the description alludes to the horses being completely covered in metallic armour, or whether it was just the front part of the horse that was covered?

The text continues-

Quote:'Nevertheless, neither the fact that their armor doubled the terror inspired by so large a number nor that numbers added force to their armes frightened you, Emperor. For it is certain that valor shows a spirit proportionate to the type of engagement because it regulates its capacities in accordance with the course of events: in small matters it is lax almost to negligence, in affairs of moderate importance moderately attentive; when great things come it is aroused according to the magnitude of the task to be endured. That display of armor, that army covered with iron, which would have been a painful sight to unwarlike men, stiumlated the spirits of invincible ones, because the soldiers infected by the Emperor's example took fire with all their courage when they encountered an enemy whom it was fitting to defeat. You yourself take over the mailed cavalry, where the greatest strength of the opposing battle line lay (Catafractos equites, in quibus maximum steterat pugnae robur, ipse tibi sumis).'Their training for combat is to preserve the course of their assault after they have
crashed into the opposing line, and since they are invulnerable they resolutely break trough whatever is set against them
.

The text then goes on to describe how Constantine dealt with the opposing heavily armored mounted-

Quote:'But you, most prudent Emperor, who knew all the ways of fighting, got assistance from your ingenuity: that it is safest to elude those whom it is most difficult to withstand.. By drawing your lines apart you induce an enemy attack which cannot be reversed; next by leading your lines back together you hem in the men whom you admit to your game. It did them no good to press forward, since your men purposely gave way; iron's rigidity did not allow a change in direction for pursuit.
Thus our men assailed those who were delivered to them with clubs equipped with heavy iron knobs which wore out an invulnerable enemy with their beating, and when they were inflicted especially on their heads they forced those whom thee blows had confused to tumble down. Then they began to fall headlong, to slide down backward, to totter half-dead or dying to be held fast by their saddles, to lie entangled in the confused slaughter of horses, which is unbridled pain, when their vulnerable points had been discovered, cast their riders everywhere'.

This description could allude to Constantine opening up his lines and then using a 'feigned flight' to lure the Clibanarii into an ambush. It's worth noting that even Constantine's catafractarii were considered to be invulnerable in an assault, and they may well have been similar to his opponents heavy cavalry. It's also apparent that there was a great many of them at least on his opponents side, enough so that special weapons and tactics had to be devised against them.

This is also from Heliodorus, which whilst pertaining to Sasanid Cataphracts, may actually be based on Late Roman Clibanarii-

Quote:‘The horse being thus equipped and, as it were, encased, the rider bestrides him, not vaulting of himself into the saddle, but lifted up by others because of his weight. When the moment comes to engage in battle, he gives his horse the rein, applies his spurs, and in full career charges the enemy, to all appearance some man made of iron, or a mobile statue wrought with the hammer. 6. His pike projects with its point thrust far ahead: it is supported by a loop attached to the horse’s neck, and has its butt-end suspended by a strap alongside the horse’s haunches; so that it does not recede in the clashes of conflict, but lightens the task of the rider’s hand, which only directs the blow. He braces himself and, firmly set so as to increase the gravity of the wound, by his mere impetus transfixes anyone who comes in his way, and may often impale two persons at a single stroke.’ Heliodorus, Aethiopica.Bk IX on description of the Cataphract.

The effect of these heavily armoured cavalry can be judged from these quotes (with thanks to Renatus on another forum)-

Plutarch, Moralia, 203 (Lucullus, 2)
Quote:His soldiers feared most the men in full armour (kataphraktou) . . .
Armenian cataphracti at the battle of Tigranocerta, 69 BC.

Nazarius, Paneg., 24.6
Quote:When Antoninus . . . made trial of the Parthians in combat, after he had seen their men clad in full armour (catafractis) he lapsed so completely into fear that on his own he sent the King a letter promoting peace.
Lucius Verus' Parthian campaign, AD 165. The panegyricist has named the wrong emperor.

Cassius Dio, 40.22.3
Quote:Hereupon many died from fright at the very charge of the pikemen . . .
The defeat of Crassus by the Parthians at Carrhae, 53 BC. Dio had previously commented that the pikemen (kontophoroi) comprised mostly kataphraktoi (Dio, 40.15.2).

Plutarch, Crassus, 24.1
Quote:. . . suddenly their enemies dropped the coverings of their armour, and were seen to be themselves blazing in helmets and breastplates, their Margian steel glittering keen and bright . .
.
The battle of Carrhae again.

Ammianus, 24.6.8
Quote:. . . the gleam of moving bodies covered with closely fitting plates dazzled the eyes of those who looked upon them . . .
Sasanian cataphracti equites encountered during Julian's Persian campaign, AD 363.

Nazarius, Paneg., 22.4
Quote:What a spectacle that is said to have been, how dreadful to behold, how terrible, horses and men alike enclosed in a covering of iron.
Maxentius' clibanarii at the battle of Turin, AD 312.

Nazarius, Paneg., 24.5
Quote:When all had been killed to a man and your soldiers were untouched, people transferred the horror inspired by their armour to wonder at the victory . . .
Maxentius' clibanarii again.

Libanius, Oration XVIII, 18.37
Quote:. . . cavalry so invulnerably equipped as to lend them a terrible aspect . . .
Constantius' clibanarii, AD 357.

Ammianus, 25.1.12-13
Quote:. . . all the companies were clad in iron, and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff joints conformed with those of their limbs; and the forms of human faces were . . . fitted to their heads . . . Of these some, who were armed with pikes, stood so motionless that you would think them held fast by clamps of bronze.
Sasanian cataphracti encountered during Julian's Persian campaign, AD 363.

Heliodorus, Aethiopica, 9.15.5
Quote:. . . to all appearances some man made of iron, or a mobile statue (andrias) wrought with the hammer.
Assumed to describe the 4th century Sasanian cataphractus.

Julian, Oration I, 37C-D
Quote:. . . they all sat their horses like statues (andriantas) . . .
An iron helmet covering the face itself gives the appearance of a shiny and glittering statue (andriantos) .

Julian, Oration II, 57C
Quote:They ride their horses exactly like statues (andriantes) . . .
Julian's descriptions of Constantius' clibanarii at the battle of Mursa, AD 353.

Ammianus, 16.10.8
Quote:. . . all masked, furnished with protecting breastplates and girt with iron belts, so that you might have supposed them statues (simulacra) polished by the hand of Praxiteles, not men.
Clibanarii escorting Constantius on his entry into Rome, AD 357.

Claudian, In Rufinum II, 357-364
Quote:. . . the limbs within give life to the armour's pliant scales so artfully conjoined, and strike terror into the beholder. 'Tis as though iron statues (simulacra) moved and men lived cast from the same metal . . . each stands alone, a pleasure yet a dread to behold, beautiful yet terrible . . .
Rufinus' clibanarii, AD 395.

Claudian, On the Sixth Consulship of Honorius, 570-572
Quote:"Whence," she would ask, "is sprung that iron race of men and what land gives birth to steeds of bronze? Has the god of Lemnos bestowed on metal the power to neigh, and forged living statues (simulacraque) for the fight?"
Honorius' 6th consulship was in AD 404.

If anyone else has any other view then I would be most interested to hear them.
Great post Adrian! Big Grin
Quote:Great post Adrian! Big Grin

Enitrely my pleasure! Big Grin
Fascinating...

But... Big Grin

..."Both Ammianus and Julian graphically describe the armour of Late Roman heavily armoured cavalry, and the descriptions are so similar that we must presume that they are describing the same thing (of course both writers saw what they were describing at close hand and therefore are excellent witnesses)"

...or did they use the same source for their writing which is now lost to us? (Or did one use the other as his source?) Stylistically they are very similar and may be two versions of the same thing as opposed to two seperate accounts.

And I love this...

"‘The horse being thus equipped and, as it were, encased, the rider bestrides him, not vaulting of himself into the saddle, but lifted up by others because of his weight. When the moment comes to engage in battle, he gives his horse the rein, applies his spurs, and in full career charges the enemy, to all appearance some man made of iron, or a mobile statue wrought with the hammer. 6. His pike projects with its point thrust far ahead: it is supported by a loop attached to the horse’s neck, and has its butt-end suspended by a strap alongside the horse’s haunches; so that it does not recede in the clashes of conflict, but lightens the task of the rider’s hand, which only directs the blow. He braces himself and, firmly set so as to increase the gravity of the wound, by his mere impetus transfixes anyone who comes in his way, and may often impale two persons at a single stroke.’ Heliodorus, Aethiopica.Bk IX on description of the Cataphract."

Thanks - great post!
Quote:I think that where ‘catafracts’ are mentioned then the writer is talking about heavily armoured men probably on unarmoured horses, when they talk about ‘clibanarii’ they mean heavily armoured men on equally armoured horses.
I think this is the generally-held belief, though not for the reason you suggest. Catafractus/Katafraktos has a long pedigree as an adjective meaning "heavily-armoured". It doesn't necessarily imply a horseman, as the same word could be applied to ships. (In theory, then, a horse could be cataphractus.) The problem comes with the sudden appearance, in the 3rd/4th C AD, of the word clibanarius, exclusively in connection with cavalry. In particular, we get Ammianus' notice of "cataphract (i.e. heavily-armoured) cavalry who are called clibanarii" (16.10.8: equites cataphractarios, quos clibanarios vocant).

Quote:I have postulated that the terms ‘catafract’ and ‘clibanarii’ were a reference to the rider and horses i.e. the riders were the ‘catafractarii’, whilst the armoured horses were the ‘clibanarii’. I base this on some part on the description of what may be the ‘Currus Drepanus’ in action within Vegetius, where the Latin text calls the chariot horse riders ‘catafractos’, and the armoured horses ‘clibanarious’.
You are probably aware of the succession of scholars who have tried to elucidate the distinction between "cataphracts" and clibanarii. There is no "killer argument", but I'm not sure that assigning the name clibanarius to the horse is necessarily valid.
Quote:Fascinating...

But... Big Grin

..."Both Ammianus and Julian graphically describe the armour of Late Roman heavily armoured cavalry, and the descriptions are so similar that we must presume that they are describing the same thing (of course both writers saw what they were describing at close hand and therefore are excellent witnesses)"

...or did they use the same source for their writing which is now lost to us? (Or did one use the other as his source?) Stylistically they are very similar and may be two versions of the same thing as opposed to two seperate accounts.

And I love this...

"‘The horse being thus equipped and, as it were, encased, the rider bestrides him, not vaulting of himself into the saddle, but lifted up by others because of his weight. When the moment comes to engage in battle, he gives his horse the rein, applies his spurs, and in full career charges the enemy, to all appearance some man made of iron, or a mobile statue wrought with the hammer. 6. His pike projects with its point thrust far ahead: it is supported by a loop attached to the horse’s neck, and has its butt-end suspended by a strap alongside the horse’s haunches; so that it does not recede in the clashes of conflict, but lightens the task of the rider’s hand, which only directs the blow. He braces himself and, firmly set so as to increase the gravity of the wound, by his mere impetus transfixes anyone who comes in his way, and may often impale two persons at a single stroke.’ Heliodorus, Aethiopica.Bk IX on description of the Cataphract."

Thanks - great post!

Ammianus and Julian did indeed use the same source for their descriptions, their own personal military experiences! Ammianus was in Gaul during the Silvanius episode and may well have remained there when Julian was sent by Constantius II as Caesar of the West. Julian personally rallied the routing Clibanarii at the Battle of Strasburg, whilst Ammianus saw both Roman and Sasanid clibanrii up close and personal during the events leading upto the Siege of Amida and also during Julians Sasanid Persia campaign.

I believe Helidorus's description whilst taken as fanciful at first glance, may have some merit as we do know from other sources that heavily armoured cavalry during a later period did have loops attached to the spear to prevent it falling if not grasped. It may well be that the long, perhaps as much as 12 feet in length spear, was stowed this way and Heliodorus then thought this was how it was used in action.
Quote:I have postulated that the terms ‘catafract’ and ‘clibanarii’ were a reference to the rider and horses i.e. the riders were the ‘catafractarii’, whilst the armoured horses were the ‘clibanarii’.


Livy uses catafract to describe the heavily armoured Seleukid cavalry where man and horse have armour.

I think Ammianus saying there are catafract cavalry they call clibanarii also rather suggests that clibanarii is not just used for the horses.
Is there possibly a connection between the word clibanus ("an earthenware bread baking oven") and clibanarii? If there is, then might the word clibanarius not then just be a soldier's nickname for any heavily armoured cavalryman, and not any sort of "official" name for anything? The phrase from Ammianus "quos clibanarios vocant" would seem to support that.
Quote:Is there possibly a connection between the word clibanus ("an earthenware bread baking oven") and clibanarii?
Peter Connolly had suggested this back in 1981, "referring to their appearance or what it felt like to wear one of their suits" (Greece and Rome at War, 1981, p. 257.)
Peter Connolly was not by any means the first to suggest this derivation.

Clibanarii’, sometimes rendered incorrectly as ‘Klibanophoroi’ , due to a mistake in referring to ‘Kataphractoi’ by Alphonse Dain in “Les Strategistes Byzantines” long ago, and like many errors and ‘myths’ has been perpetuated ever since. The idea stems from the Greek word: κλίβανος meaning "camp oven" or “bread baking oven" see e.g. Septuagint; Leviticus 11:35.

There are several theories to the origins of this name for the heavily armoured cavalry, one being that the men were literally nicknamed “camp oven bearers” (due to the amount of armour they worn that would heat up very quickly in the heat of battle) or alternately that the name is derived from the Persian word "griwbanwar" (Gk transliteration: griva-pana-bara) meaning "neck-guard wearer" or possibly "life preserver". Ammianus says the word originates from a Persian word. A further variation on this is that the late Byzantine manual ( 10 C AD) of Nikopheros Phokas calls an eastern type lamellar cuirass worn by ‘Kataphractoi’ a ‘klibanion’, and the thick worked bull-hide trapper of the horse ‘klibania’ - perhaps this is where Valentinian Victrix understandably got the idea that the word might derive from a piece of horse armour.

However, at this late date, the equipment could be named for the earlier fully-armoured cavalry, as easily as being the original source of the name.

( digression: The bulk of the horsemen in the manual are described as ‘Kabalarioi’ from which derives our word cavalry).

Personally, I suspect the word originally WAS a Persian one, but that it’s similarity to the Greek word for “oven” made the double meaning particularly apt, and so the name stuck.

Peter Connolly was simply repeating these long debated origins in 1981. Those who ‘grew up’ on Connolly or whose interest in ancient history was sparked by him might care to know that much of what they now debate was also debated pre-Connolly, to whom of course a great debt in popularising ‘ancient warfare’ is owed. Both these theories, along with whether there are any differences between ‘Clibanarii’ and ‘Kataphraktoi’ were debated for decades, and ultimately go back to J.W. Eadie’s 1967 “Roman Mailed Cavalry” and “Breviarium of Festus” and onward.( The debate is a long one, as Duncan mentioned in an earlier post).

The term ‘Clibanarii’ does not seem to be used for fully armoured Roman cavalry prior to the 4 C AD ( not 3 C AD, contra Duncan) when Lactantius (318 AD) and Nazarius (321 AD) are the first to use the term to describe Roman cavalry. Ammianus (XVI.10.8 ) discusses it and he specifically tell us the terms 'Clibanarii' and 'Kataphracktoi' are synonymous. Eutropius and Rufus Festus, in their respective ‘ Breviariums’, late 4 C AD, use the word ‘Clibanarii’ to describe troops indistinguishable from ‘Kataphraktoi’.

In the "Historia Augustae", a certain "Aelius Lampridius'"wrote 'Alexandri Severi Vita'(56.6) supposedly writing c 300 AD, and referring to Persians so named, whose captured armour c 233 AD is supposedly the first use of such by Romans according to the author. In fact this is an ancient forgery and the author was writing around 395 AD, as first proposed by Dessau, and now validated by computer analysis.

Incidently, while Duncan is correct that the term 'kataphraktoi' can be employed with respect to things other than soldiers, such as ships, the term did not originally mean "heavily armoured" at all, but rather "covered in"( e.g. a 'kataphract' Trireme was not 'armoured', but simply decked over ), and 'covered in' can describe a fully armoured man.This usage eventually led late writers such as Vegetius to use the term as a generic one for 'armoured'.

Largely due to their expense and difficult training there were never very many of these units - A summary of the Notitia Dignitatum for the two types of unit (Units numbered 3-500 troopers or so.) is :
'Catafractarii': 8 units in the East, 2 in the West, (both stationed in Britannia, but possibly one and the same unit).
Units with geographic names suggesting where raised: Equites catafractarii Albigenses, Equites catafractarii Ambianenses, Equites catafractarii Biturigenses.)


'Clibanarii': 6 units in the East. 2 Units exist in the West, both stationed in Africa; one of which is an archer Clibanarii unit.
Units with geographic names: Primi clibanarii Parthi, Secundi clibanarii Parthi, Quarti clibanarii Parthi, Persae clibanarii, Cuneus equitum secundorum clibanariorum Palmirenorum
- all implying that the name 'Clibanarii' has a 'Persian' connection.
Quote:
Forty-One:w2kckuok Wrote:Is there possibly a connection between the word clibanus ("an earthenware bread baking oven") and clibanarii?
Peter Connolly had suggested this back in 1981, "referring to their appearance or what it felt like to wear one of their suits" (Greece and Rome at War, 1981, p. 257.)
Today, I made two fascinating discoveries.

(1) In an article that I had never read before,* R.M. Rattenbury (translator of Heliodorus in the 1930s, I think) glosses clibanarii as "baking-tin men", a suggestion which may have been at the back of Peter Connolly's mind when he was writing Greece and Rome at War.

(2) The Aethiopica of Heliodorus has a stirring account of a (fictional) siege of Syene, in which the author describes Persian cataphracts. (I see that Heliodorus appears in Adrian's list of sources that started this thread, but I had never read him before.)

* R.M. Rattenbury, "An ancient armoured force", Classical Review 56 (1942), 113-116.
The caveat I have about using the Notitia as a basis for what units were in existance is that current wisdom has it that the Western section was compiled around 420AD, and the Eastern section around 395AD. By this time a number of units may well have ceased to exist due to either being disbanded or destroyed in battle and not reformed, something Jones noted.
It is true, as A.H.M. Jones noted, that the exact accuracy of the Notitia as to whether it was 'up-to-date' is debated, but the general idea - that there were very few 'Kataphractoi/Clibanarii' in any given 'Field Army' is entirely valid.

Heliodorus' "Aethiopica", a work of fiction in the 'love story' genre, is often overlooked in discussions on the subject, precisely because it is fiction, but also in part because although the description is detailed and matches others, there are a few aspects which are 'odd' such as the description of armoured hooves and horses legs - perhaps he had seen/heard of Trajan's column, and his description of the lance being supported by a neck-strap around the horses neck - perhaps a misunderstanding of the way in which reins and the fore hand of the two-handed grip were held, as well as the butt held by a strap around the haunches - perhaps a misunderstanding of a strap to hold the lance whilst sword or bow were used.

But it would not be surprising at all if Heliodorus had not seen a Persian 'Clibanarius', but was relying on 'hearsay' for his exotic 'love story'.
I possibly did not make myself very clear. What I was suggesting that in my opinion there were more Catafractarii/Clibanarii units in existance pre-395AD, so the Notitia does not give an accurate indication of the number that existed prior to the date of the composition of the Notitia. We know Libanius and Julian credited Constantius II with not only making a large increase in the numbers of that type of cavalry, but Libanius in particular states that Constantius II increased their armour to the extent that Late Roman Clibanarii was even more armoured than their Sasanid counterparts.

Whilst in the main Heliodorus' Aethiopica is a work of fiction, it does contain elements that may well reflect a certain reality. I tend to believe his description of the heavily armoured cavalry in his work on the basis that his description closely matches those descriptions I have posted in this thread.
Salvete and thank you to all contributors for a very interesting thread.

I was particularly puzzled by the reference to cataphract archery in Julian's panegyric. Now I have looked up the Greek original which is as follows (apologies for my amateurish transliteration):

"(...) eos oi thorakophoroi kai to loipon ton hippeon plethos oi men ek toxon Ballontes alloi de epelaunontes tous hippous pollous men ekeinon (...)"

First of all I note that the reference is to thorakophoroi which implies that the soldiers are wearing a breastplate but not necessary horse armour.

Secondly, applying my rusty high school Greek, I am not sure that the archery necessarily refers to the thorakophoroi at all. To me the Greek would translate as follows:

"(...) the thorakophoroi, together with the remaining force of horsemen, these by firing missiles, the others by driving their horses [into close combat] (...)"

Now, gramatically "these" could relate to the thorakophoroi but, given the highly artistic language, could it not similary relate to the remaing force of horsemen in the following manner: "(...) the thorakophoroi, together with the remaining force of horsemen, these [i.e. the remaing force of horsemen] by firing missiles, the others [i.e. the thorakophoroi] by driving their horses [into close combat] (...)"?

It would be great if somebody with a real knowledge of classical Greek could comment on this.
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