Full Version: imperial legionary animal standards? evidence?
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Avete People,

I am looking for the sources on the use of animal standards in the imperial roman army other than the aquila: there figures a ram standard (identifying LEGIO I MINERVIA) at Trajans column, but that is the only clear source I could find...

Could it be that this type of standard was also a type of the "Imago"?

Some of the books just state that "some legions may have used also standards with zodiacal signs" or something like that.

But what are the sources ?

Thanks in advance,

They were commonly used as totemic standards (the bull, the wolf, the boar... ) in the republic until Marius replaced them by the eagle.
From the third century Batavian garrison at Carrawburgh (Brocolitia) a tombstone of a signifier was found in 1873. (See picture). The carving shows the standard bearer carrying a small, but very unusually shaped shield or ‘parma’. He also carries a zodiac signum of a bull. The bull standard was adopted by units that were raised by Julius Caesar. It was sacred to the goddess Venus, the goddess mother of the gens Julia, and the period between the17th April to the 18th May.

Caesar founded the ‘Germani’ horse guard from the Batavi and Ubii peoples whilst campaigning in Gaul in the first century BC. This could possibly be the historical link between the Carrawburgh standard bearer from Cohors I Batavorum, and the Batavian guard raised by Caesar. Other units that used the bull as their totem were Legio VII and Legio VIII Augusta, Legio X Gemina (Which served with Caesar in Gaul), and Legio III Gallica and Legio IIII Macedonica, which were probably units raised by Caesar in 48BC.

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Of course, there's the DRACO:[Image: draco2s.jpg]
It was in use with the cavalry from the 2nd c. AD onwards, and later also as infantry standard. it continued in use until at least the 6th c. with Romano-Byzantine armies, but we have later evidence of it's use with Carolingian and Anglo-Saxon forces.
Quote:Could it be that this type of standard was also a type of the "Imago"?

The imago was specifically the image of the emperor (which is why Tiberius was so outraged to find that the legions had adopted the image of his Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus, on their standards: Suet., Tib. 48 ).
(Just to confuse matters, Tacitus calls the standard-bearer carrying Galba's image a vexillarius: Tac., Hist. 1.41. Normally, this was the imaginifer's job!)

Quote:sources on the use of animal standards in the imperial roman army ...
You are asking specifically about animal effigies, such as the ram which characterises I Minervia on Trajan's Column (Taf. 35 / scene 48 / cast 122).
These must have been supplementary standards -- we don't know what they were called -- displaying the legion's particular emblem. Pliny (Nat. Hist. 10.16) claims that only the eagle was carried into battle while the other emblems were left in the camp, but he must be mistaken if I Minervia brought their ram emblem to Dacia.

The legionary emblems are well known from building inscriptions, and also crop up on coins. For example, legion XX uses the boar as its emblem, and we can well imagine that it had a boar effigy on its standard.

Quote:... some legions may have used also standards with zodiacal signs
Other emblems are zodiacal and specifically linked with key imperial personages. For example, the bull emblem indicates a link with Julius Caesar, via his legendary ancestor Venus. This emblem is found with legion X Gemina, indicating that it must have been Caesar's famous Tenth Legion.
The zodiac sign of the capricorn is linked with the birthday of Octavian/Augustus. Predictably, it is found, for example, with legion II Augusta (and others).

As far as I know, none of these have been found as standards, but only as sculptural representations, chosen either by the legionary stonemasons to represent their unit, or by the moneyers to represent certain units on the coinage.
Supposedly, an actual capricorn emblem was discovered at Wiesbaden, but I don't have the reference. Perhaps our German colleagues know this one?