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Full Version: Tell me about the Signifer
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Hey there team,

I want to know all there is to know about the signifer as i'm preparing to get set up with the full get up!

So please tell me all you know about the signifer, i only know the basics and would like to know as much as possible, if anyone knows any stories i would love to hear them too e.g. the aquilifer in Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
Click the Search tab at the top of the page, use signifer as the search word, and you should get about 47 hits in several threads. That would be a good start, eh? Smile

There's a lot to tell, and the kit chosen will depend on the time period chosen, of course. A signifer under Julius Caesar would look considerably different in Theodosius' day.
Hmm, thank you Demetrius...

I do feel rather the fool now as i rushed into this forum as a potential source of information without doing enough research first...

To be more specific i'm trying to build up my knowledge on the late imperial signifer, what his roles & responsibilities were, how he fit in the hierarchy, what his equipment was like and how it differed to other legionaries, any sources that sight any individual signifers actions during battle...

More then anything i aim to promote discussion, as im sure there are many things that are still theory, where did the signifer stand in formation, what were the pre requisitioner to the position, were there any ceremonies for the position, would one fight with signum in hand or plant it into ground and defend that position.

Never the less i will continue to trawl the previous threads, but if anyone has any theories or would like to enlighten me then feel free...
Don't feel foolish, not at all. You'll find the search engine works pretty well, and can get you a number of previous discussions on topics that interest you. While the same questions eventually get asked by another person, it's still useful to see what has been said before, as well as helping you to ask more specific questions.

Don't be shy about asking. (But just FYI, nobody really knows what color the Signifer's tunic was. Wink )
Quote:... i'm trying to build up my knowledge on the late imperial signifer, what his roles & responsibilities were, how he fit in the hierarchy, ...
How late is late? Off the top of my head, the bulk of the epigraphic evidence (I'm thinking about career and hierarchy) is second century.


Quote:More then anything i aim to promote discussion, ...
Oh, I'm sure you'll get some of that! :wink:
How late is late? Off the top of my head, the bulk of the epigraphic evidence (I'm thinking about career and hierarchy) is second century.

Well that is actually a good question. How much did the imperial army change in it's time? In my head when i think of an imperial army im thinking of 50-200 AD legion. So when i think of a signifer i think of of this period, which probably isn't late imperial after all.

Did the signifer wear a face mask as some pictures portray?

Did he wear Lorica Hamata in opposition to Lorica Segmentata?

How did his role change with time?
Quote:How late is late? Off the top of my head, the bulk of the epigraphic evidence (I'm thinking about career and hierarchy) is second century.

Well that is actually a good question. How much did the imperial army change in it's time? In my head when i think of an imperial army im thinking of 50-200 AD legion. So when i think of a signifer i think of of this period, which probably isn't late imperial after all.

Did the signifer wear a face mask as some pictures portray?

Did he wear Lorica Hamata in opposition to Lorica Segmentata?

How did his role change with time?


AD 50-200 is a long space of time for the Principate. I would recommend putting your efforts into representing a signifer from one specific period. Most groups in the United States seem to represent from the mid-first century to the turn of the second century.

1). The mask is debatable among reenactors, although I believe the majority of reenactors accept it as appropriate (you'll find that reenactors will argue about anything and everything).

2). To my knowledge, there is no evidence that a signifer wore segmentata. That doesn't mean that he didn't, but a good rule to go by, is "if there's no evidence to substantiate your claim, don't do it." Lorica Squamata is also appropriate.

3). Throughout the Principate, the signifer was a clerk. He was responsible for managing the pay, pension funds, and general paperwork of his century. I believe that this remained true throughout the principate.

Also, please read and study. Goldsworthy's The Complete Roman Army is an excellent study of the Roman Army from the Republic to the fall of the Empire (TONS of illustrations, too).

As a final help, M. CVRIVS ALEXANDER has an absolutely fantastic Imagnifer inpression (mid first century to early second?). He posted a picture of his impression a while back. Since he posted it on a public forum, I'll call it "public property." :whistle:


[attachment=5348]P1010025.jpg[/attachment]
-Courtesy and property of M. CVRIVS ALEXANDER

Note: A European Brown Bear is the bear pelt to use. However, a North American Black Bear with a brown coat is perfectly acceptible as well. 8)
I've found this in my collection of photographs from Chesters Museum. Admittedly the stone is a bit worn...
[attachment=5349]PIC_0409.JPG[/attachment]
Also in the M. Bishop's tombstones database “The Armatura Press”, there are some photos with different details on this issue. The tombstone of the signifer Pintaius of cohors V Asturum could be particularly useful.

Best!
S.M.