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I've got a few questions about the late 3rd century. I understand resources are limited, but any help would be greatly appreciated. First. are there any good resources where I can see the ranks of the roman legions during the reign of Diocletian? I've got a great book on the roman army by Adrian Goldsworthy and he talks about the equestrian ranks that began to replace the senatorial ones, but I'm looking for more of the junior command. After he talks about the different tribunes, prefects, and praepositii, he says "Apart from their titles, even less is known about the various more junior ranks attested in the later army." I want to know what those various, more junior ranks are, or at least what they are called. What I'm really looking for is a top to bottom list of ranks, and a brief description of their responsibilities (if such information is even available). Thanks in advance for any help.
Dear J here is something that might interest you:
•Nicasie, M.J., Twilight of Empire. The Roman Army from the Reign of Diocletian until the Battle of Adrianople (Amsterdam 1998) [Dutch Monographs on Ancient History and Archaeology, 19.].
•Southern, Pat and Karen R. Dixon, The Late Roman Army (New Haven: Yale 1996).
osprey has also something:
https://ospreypublishing.com/roman-legionary-ad-284-337

something to be found here:
http://www.romanarmytalk.com/17-roman-mi...0&start=75

and a search here with no date
http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/search....mitstart=0
Thank you! This is quite a bit of material, better get to reading.
Quote:the ranks of the roman legions during the reign of Diocletian?

There is a shortage of evidence, as you say, but we have some ideas of the earlier and later structures, and can speculate on that basis!

I did quite a long post here in the thread that Gunthamund linked above that might address the question to some extent.

Basically, the lower ranks of the legions of Diocletian's day were probably quite similar to those of the earlier principiate. We still find centuries commanded by centurions (although they seem to have been referred to more commonly as ordinarius after c.280 or so), assisted by optiones and tesserarii. These ranks appear to have carried on right though later Roman history, and turn up centuries later in Egyptian papyrii and the Perge inscription too, I believe.

The main changes seem to have been in the upper command structure. From around 250, senators were removed from legion command and their places taken by prefects, initially equestrians and later promoted centurions. A few decades later, c.280, the old equestian military positions seem to have been phased out. So no more equestrian tribunes or cohort prefects - again, the legion centurionate seems to have supplied all these command posts, via the new institution of the Corps of Protectores.

Around the same time, the primus pilus and praefectus castrorum disappear too. The senior centurion (or perhaps veteran) role now seems to have been the campidoctor, or drill master. There were sometimes several of these men in a unit, and they also functioned as front line soldiers.

Later papyrii and inscriptions, plus Vegetius, mention several other ranks or roles that may have appeared around this point, or some time later. Flaviales and Augustales, for example, could have been centurion grades, or (perhaps more likely) senior soldier grades; the former is most probably Constantinian.

Better attested positions, probably dating from the later 3rd century, would include actuarius (legion quartermaster, approximately), adiutor (clerk or record keeper) and draconarius (draco-bearer).

Confusingly, there was a whole new rank structure for the elite units of the mid fourth century, the auxilia palatina and scholae. These ranks (including centenarius, biarchus, circitor and others) seem not to have been used by the legions, either limitanei or comitatensis. One or two crossover posts used by both types of unit - vicarius, for example - probably appeared later in the 4th century.
Incredible, thanks for your insight. I'm surprised at the lack of prefectures though, I would have thought those positions lasted through Constantine. Are you saying that those positions were filled by jumped-up centurions, who kept the same title but undertook new/advanced duties? Sorry for the confusion man, I'm really out of my element with this one. What I'm focused on is really the 290's, the army Galerius would have fought Narseh with and/or the army Diocletian would have besieged Alexandria with. What I'm seeing is almost a simplification of military posts, almost like they are moving towards a somewhat merit based bottom to top promotion structure. Is that correct or am I completely off mark here?
Quote:I'm surprised at the lack of prefectures... filled by jumped-up centurions

Yes, it does seem strange at first, although when we look at the Notitia Dignitatum we find old-style legions all commanded by praefecti and 'cohorts' (either what were originally auxiliary cohorts or bits of older legions) commanded by tribunes. The few careers inscriptions from the 3rd/4th century seem to point to a straight advancement from centurion, via protector, to either tribune or prefect. Again, I'd really recommend Hepworth's 1963 thesis - it's dense, but covers this ground in far better detail than anything else I've read (inclusing Nicasie etc)



Quote:moving towards a somewhat merit based bottom to top promotion structure. Is that correct or am I completely off mark here?

It seems to be the case, yes. You could look at a man like Flavius Abinnaeus, a former cavalry decurion promoted to the protectores after many years service and then to praefectus of an old-style cavalry ala in Egypt; at the other end of the scale would be a man like Flavius Memorius (CIL 12, 00673), who started in the Joviani and rose to praepositus of lanciarii, then comes ripae and comes Mauretaniae Tingitanae - senior posts in the field army and provincial command. There's also Valerius Thiumpus (probably Diocletianic) who bypassed the protectores and became Prefect of II Herculia after a spell in the lanciarii of the imperial retinue. The importance of the comitatus - and proximity to the emperor(s) generally - is obvious.

Praepositus is an important role here too - in some ways, it seems to have expanded from its origins as an ad hoc command in the principiate to fill any number of middle leadership positions. The forces that Diocletian and Galerius led into Egypt in the 290s seem (going on papyrus evidence) to have been based on twinned legion detachments (one from each of the two legions of each Danubian province), each commanded by a praepositus. These praepositi, wherever their origins can be determined, appear to have been centurions. So praepositus was a definite step on the ladder of promotions - whether it was equal, or even virtually identical - to the old legionary tribune role is unclear.

For further reading, you might take a look at Ross Cowan's latest book in the Osprey series, Roman Legionary, AD284-337. Vol VI, Issue 5 of Ancient Warfare magazine also covers 'The Armies of Diocletian'.
Thanks so much, I really do feel like I'm starting to get a better grip on the legion structure. I do have a few questions about cavalry, and this isn't so much about ranks but I do want to know about types of cavalry. For instance, I read recently that Diocletian's standing army contained Equite Lanciarii and Equite Cunei, but does that mean those are the only types of cavalry he would take with him? Also, are Equite Lanciarii simply light cavalry that toss javelins? Also, does the progression of the cavalry go "Turmae", and a group of Turmae is a "Vexillatio", and a group of "Vexillatio" would make up the cavalry wing of an army? I'm speaking in the sense that, if an army were on the move. Wouldn't that army contain aspects of Palatani, Comitatenses, and Pseudocomitatenses? What I'm saying is, it seems to me that unlike the days of the republic and principate where a general would pick up several different legions and march to a destination, the armies of Diocletian tended to be less rigid and more fluid, in that he might take a palatani, and then combine different cohorts from different comitatenses, and possibly do the same with the limitanei along the way. Is this accurate? Sorry for the wall of text, like I said earlier I've had a difficult time understanding the late third century armies.
Quote:Equite Lanciarii and Equite Cunei

Lanciarii appear originally to have been legionary light infantry. Some of them were mounted, and they were sometimes detached from their parent legions. Later, one or more units called Lanciarii appear as part of the imperial comitatus (Valerius Thiumpus was in sacro comit(atu) lanciarius) - what relation these had (beyond the name) to the legion troops is unknown. We might assume that at some point (under Diocletian?) the lanciarii of several units were brigaded together into their own elite formation.

Cuneus, in the later empire, was a cavalry unit of unknown size. The word means 'wedge' and was also used for an infantry battlefield formation. Cunei appear to have been based in the provinces, and the word may have been similar to the infantry numerus, which was widely used to refer to infantry units of various sizes.

Diocletian's cavalry force in the comitatus would have included new-style mounted units, referred to simply as equites. The size of these units is unknown, but they appear similar, perhaps, to the old-style cavalry alae, which still remained as part of the frontier armies. The oldest of these units seem to have been the Equites Dalmatae, which together with the Equites Mauri appear often in fourth century forces. The Equites Promoti, also common, were possibly the older legion cavalry forces, brigaded into their own units. The Equites Stablesiani were also early (probably 3rd century) and are discussed here.

The elite(or 'guard') cavalry units known as the Scholae may have been formed by Diocletian (a Christian martyr story suggests that the schola scutarii and schola gentiles existed in c303), or later by Constantine.



Quote:does the progression of the cavalry go "Turmae", and a group of Turmae is a "Vexillatio", and a group of "Vexillatio" would make up the cavalry wing of an army?

I'm not sure whether turma was still used for a subunit of the new-style cavalry, or whether it was relegated to the frontier troops along with ala. By the fourth century, vexillatio (as you suggest) seems to have been the usual term for a cavalry unit serving under its own flag (vexillum). This might suggest that the new equites units may originally have been detachments of larger formations.



Quote:Wouldn't that army contain aspects of Palatani, Comitatenses, and Pseudocomitatenses?... he might take a palatani, and then combine different cohorts from different comitatenses, and possibly do the same with the limitanei along the way. Is this accurate?

The palatini designation seems to have been an innovation of the mid fourth century, by either Constantine or his sons. Pseudocomitatensis troops were more probably introduced later in the fourth or fifth century, when frontier forces were brought in to reinforce depleted imperial field armies. The word comitatensis first appears in a ruling of AD325

The earliest use of the term limitanei is AD363 (see this thread), but it doesn't seem to have come into common use until the end of the fourth century. Before this, frontier troops were sometimes referred to as ripenses or riparienses, but were not officially a lower grade of soldier - the distinction was still between the legions (and units of the comitatus) and the 'cohorts' (former auxiliary units).

As a rough guess, I would say that a field army of the Diocletianic era would have included the troops of the comitatus (usually comprising lanciarii infantry, with units of the Jovia and Herculia legions, some select equites units and perhaps scholae cavalry if they existed at that point), together with a main infantry force of detachments drawn from the frontier legions, with each detachment under the command of a praepositus. The cavalry component would be made up of further equites vexillations (Delmatae, Mauri, Promoti, Stablesiani and others, some of them probably mounted archers (equites sagittarii).) It's possible that the ancestors of the later auxilia palatini were already serving in the field armies by this point, perhaps as irregular (barbarian?) units called numeri; some of these were also mounted (numeri equitum).

Many field armies of the tetrarchic period also seem to have contained substantial bodies of barbarian allies - probably not yet referred to as foederati; Ammianus (confusingly) calls them 'auxiliaries' - who served under their own kings for a single campaign or a little longer. Galerius had a large number of Gothic troops on his second expedition against the Persians in AD298; Constantine later used Franks in the same way, and at Chrysopolis in 324 Franks and Goths (under their own tribal leaders) fought on opposing sides.
Nathan,

I've read (and reread) Hepworth's thesis and there is on thing I cannot understand in his arguments.
As the title/rank of protector evolved, it came to designate primi ordines centurions. He also states
that the evidence shows that all protectores served in the field armies, not on the frontiers. But,
in the review of the individual evidence in part 2, he repeatedly states that someone served "in the
field army and the first cohort."

That's where he loses me. He says that in the late third century, it was possible for the centurio
ordinari
to serve in the field army, but a protector must be a) in the field army and b) in the primi
ordines
and c) in the first cohort. Is he implying (because I can't find where he explicitly says)
that the field army eventually was formed from legionary first cohorts? Or that a permanent vexillation
to the field army was reorganized as a first cohort? The evidence he points to is all fourth century.

Thanks,
Austin
Quote:Is he implying (because I can't find where he explicitly says)
that the field army eventually was formed from legionary first cohorts? Or that a permanent vexillation
to the field army was reorganized as a first cohort?

It is confusing, and unnecessarily so, I think! Personally, I don't see any need to assume that the 'double' first cohort existed within the legions much after the departure of the primus pilus in the later 3rd century. Vegetius talks about it as part of his 'antique legion', of course.

Hepworth's intention, I think, was to explain the appearance of centenarii and ducenarii in the legion, and try to follow Vegetius, by having them as primi ordines centurions within the first cohort. However, there are no ducenarii known in the legions - I believe it was a title reserved for men elevated from the centurionate to the protectores. Centenarii are unknown too, except in the one possible case I mentioned above.

Field army legion detachments probably did not involve the first cohort anyway (inscription CIL 08, 08440 has cohorts 7 and 10 of II Herculia on campaign in Mauretania); ordinarii filled all 'centurion' posts in the frontier and field armies (and were also appointed as praepositi to command detachments); protectores were removed from the legion structure and granted the title ducenarius, although they too (apparently) could command field army detachments, as Florius Baudio seems to have done with the troops of the his former legion, II Italica Div, in AD312...

So much of this stuff rests on hypothesis, but that seems the best rationale for it I've heard so far!

Incidentally, I don't know who J.R Hepworth was, or even if the author was male or female! They seem to have produced nothing other than this very insightful 1963 thesis - does anyone know more?
Copac gives "John Robert Hepworth". Checked only superficially, no other publications under that name. Quite surprising given Hepworth's supervisors were the big names, John Mann and Eric Birley, and he got support from Kurt Stade at Münster.
Quote:Hepworth's intention, I think, was to explain the appearance of centenarii and ducenarii in the legion, and try to follow Vegetius, by having them as primi ordines centurions within the first cohort. However, there are no ducenarii known in the legions

Hepworth states on pg 31 that the primi ordines were ducenarii
Quote:Thus if the centurions of the other nine cohorts were upgraded to the status of centenarii, one would expect those in the first cohort to hold ducenarian rank.
He then cites CIL V 1721 as a proof.

It does seem that he tries to force the notion that (at least in the third century) primi ordines centurions are commanding vexillations. I mean, what else were they doing? But, I don't think he makes a large enough distinction between the ad-hoc nature of the third century arrangements and the fourth century where the field army and frontier armies are separate entities and legionary cohorts are no longer rotating from one to the other. And I agree that whatever the original purpose of a double-sized first cohort was, that had changed by the late third century.


Quote:Incidentally, I don't know who J.R Hepworth was
Hepworth seems to disappear after his Ph.d. He refers to his Masters thesis in the bibliography (also from Durham), but it is not available.


Quote: as Florius Baudio seems to have done with the troops of the his former legion, II Italica Div, in AD312...
I would love if someone did a case study of Leg II Italica Divitensium. A vexillation from the Danube that stays so long on the Rhine that it gains its own identity and is then vexillated again or taken whole by Constantine into his campaign against Maxentius and becomes a permanent fixture of the field army! Maybe an author like Dando-Collins could fill in the "facts" we don't know and have it fighting the Goths, Persians, Muslims, Turks, etc. Big Grin

Austin
Quote:He then cites CIL V 1721 as a proof.

I can't find this one translated anywhere - does it mention centurions, necessarily?

CIL 05, 01721 (Aquileia): Debita non optata dies iuvenili advenit aetati / cum meritis gauderet suis qu(a)e olim labore quaesiit / tunc desertus dulce est coniugali vinculo / ac post non magno et crudeli tempore / eorum fata durae(!) coniunxerunt corpora / uno iacent ambo non toro sed tumulo / nec remisere saltem subolem qui meminerit suos / quod non quidem saolis nec nunc primum contigit / omnibus semper suis fuit carus amicus / hic ducenae dignitate inter lectos meruerat viros / huic contubernales sui id contra votum posuerun(t) / fors qui intendit doleat sed sic se fata ferebant

All the officers that Hepworth lists as ducenarii appear to be from the auxilia or cavalry.



Quote:I would love if someone did a case study of Leg II Italica Divitensium

Yes! Ross Cowan gave a brief resume in his latest Osprey book (and may do a less brief one in his forthcoming title on Milvian Bridge). The idea that their Italian tombstones follow the course of Constantine's 312 advance is too tempting to ignore really - I managed to find Baudio's stone on a recent visit to the museum in Spoleto.

Besides their interesting name evolutions - and the fact that one of them was a recently-recruited Raetian - they seem to have had an unusual habit of stating their cohort number on funerary inscriptions rather than their centuria... which raises all sorts of interesting possibilities about the shape and size of the later 'field army legion', perhaps!
The reference is "hic ducenae dignitate inter lectos meruerat viros". "ducenae dignitas" is thought to mean the office of a ducenarius, since there's, for example, a similar phrasing in Codex Theodosianus VIII.4.3 and X.7.1. If the term was common military slang, is still debatable, though. Maybe that's why another reading of the same inscription (seen in an article by Chr. Witschel, Der epgraphic habit in der Spätantike (2006), p. 388) suggests to solve it more clearly as: "hic ducena[ria] dignitate inter lectos meruerat viros", which translates to "he had served in 'ducenarian' position among select men".
Unfortunately, there's no picture of the inscription available online. So if anyone's visiting SS Felice e Fortunato in Aquileia, don't forget to take a photo! Wink
Quote: "hic ducena[ria] dignitate inter lectos meruerat viros", which translates to "he had served in 'ducenarian' position among select men"

Thanks Tilman! Do you think you could give a rough translation of the rest of the inscription, for context? And, just to be clear, there's no specific reference to centurions here?

*(do we even know that this inscription is military? It looks a bit like a piece of civilian panegyric poetry! Could refer to the old equestrian official grade of ducenarius, perhaps?)

'Select men' sounds like it could refer to officers advanced from their previous positions, e.g. from the centurionate to the protectores, perhaps.
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