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Late Roman Army - seniores and iuniores
#16
Hello all,
I remember that when I read Nicasie's long dissertion about iunores/seniores, his conclusions (which Robert has already shared) seemed to me appreciable under a logical point of view, but clearly lacked any substantial proof (and Nicasie never tried to hide or deny this point), and also raised questions about the actual level of application of this distinction in the army before 364.
My idea was that it would have been easier to assume that Costantine (if Nicasie is correct , or someone else, still before 364, if he is not) did not actually extensively apply such a new system of designation, but did - (if ever) - "just" bring it in, which doesn't necessarily mean that it was suddenly applied to the entire army, not even to a large part of it.
This made it possible to keep on referring to Hoffmann's theory as the most valid one, provided we apply to it a few corrections, as a consequence of the discovery of sources Hoffmann couldn't have known of, about which you all have extensively talked here.
In a few words, I totally agree with these words:

Quote:I therefore think that most seniores/iuniores were created in 364, because that west-east division seems also to take place just then.

Naissus stands clearly, in my opinion, as the most likely event for the iuniores/seniores distinction as we know it from the Notitia Dignitatum.
The Nakolea epigraph "proves" that this system was already in use, but doesn't affect the fact that the ND pattern of distinction might have mainly been originated at Naissus.
I understand that so far I haven't added anything to what has already been written in this topic, but my opinion (and I also did that in a worst english Big Grin ).
I wish, anyway , to mention another author (who shares this view and with whom I substantially agree, by the way ) who briefly deals with this problem, having at hand all available sources and other scholars' theories: Noel Lenski, in "Failure of empire, Valens and the roman state in the IV century a.D.", 2002, after briefly mentioning some theories (Hoffmann, Tomlin, Drew-Bear, Scharf, Nicasie), concludes that Hoffman's and Tomlin's theory, if modified, remains the best since the Seniores/Iuniores distinction in the ND, even if it already existed before 364, is largely a reflection of the 364 division.
I think this would be a good starting point for any further research.
Just my opinion.
Regards

Valete
Iuppiter Optimus Maximus resistere atque iterare pugnam iubet
(Liv. I.12)


Tiberius Claudius Nero
a.k.a. Carlo Sansilvestri


CONTUBERNIUM
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#17
Ti Cl Nero: thanks for your suggestions
Robert: seems we've come to similiar conclusions Big Grin

But regarding my writings about some units: thats much too long, all in German and has to be revised. I dont know when or how to use it -
hey Robert, maybe WE should start an online-project listing all sources for late Roman units, working years over years on that :lol:

For the moment one important observation referring to recruits. Its about legions sent to strenghten Amida in 359:

Ammianus 18.9.3:
Quote: the Superventores and Praeventores under the command of Aelian, who was now a Comes. These last, while they were still raw recruits, had made a sally from Singara under the same officer, then only Protector

Quote: Superventores atque Praeventores cum Aeliano iam Comite, quos tirones tum etiam novellos hortante memorato adhuc protectore erupisse a Singara Persasque fusos in somnum rettulimus trucidasse complures.

Could that tell us anything about the meaning or not-meaning of iuniores?
Jens Wucherpfennig
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#18
Salve Jens,
this suggests newly recruited units would not be designated "iuniores" - you mean this, don't you?
I agree, this also makes sense to me.
While the term "iunior" is widely used (as "tiro " does) in late empire sources (Vegetius, De Rebus Bellicis, Codex Theodos.) in order to designate recruits, I would think that designating a unit following this principle would be not logical: soldiers would not like to serve in a unit which would indicate themselves as "recruits" even when they were no more such ( I guess supposing "iuniores " units constantly kept as recruits-composed units is illogical as well)
If a link with the "age matter" has to be found, I think it should be much less direct.
It may be related to the chronological hierarchy between the 2 units bearing the same name; in this, Nicasie may be right at least under a general point of view, if not in details: maybe a iuniores unit was created out of an existing unit (which would then became "seniores"); the "seniores" would supply a skeleton of officers and veterans to the new unit, whose gaps would have to be filled with new recruits.
In this case, the new unit would still be mainly composed of recruits when formed up, but the designation "iuniores" would be seen in a more general meaning , with a reference to a "seniores" parent unit rather than to actual soldiers' status.
Just a possibility, anyway, without conclusive proofs - I found this principle plausible, while details may be widely varying.
If, on the contrary , I didn't catch your point, Jens, I apologize.
Iuppiter Optimus Maximus resistere atque iterare pugnam iubet
(Liv. I.12)


Tiberius Claudius Nero
a.k.a. Carlo Sansilvestri


CONTUBERNIUM
SISMA - Società Italiana per gli Studi Militari Antichi
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#19
Apologies for reviving a very old thread, but I've been thinking about this seniores/iuniores question and it seemed better to add some thoughts here.

I've always found the idea of legions splitting up and bits of them being sent to opposite ends of the empire rather troublesome - it would be very difficult to organise, amongst other problems!

Might there be a simpler explanation for the different names? All the theories I've so far read or heard about seem to presume that one original field army unit or legion was either split into two (Hoffmann) or sort of gave birth to a 'junior' version of itself (Tomlin).

But could the names simply relate to two separate drafts on an original legion? The names would be used (perhaps in a rather ad hoc way at first) to distinguish units drafted at different times.

So, for example, it might go something like this:

3rd century: Legio I Italica, based at Novae in Moesia.

Late 3rd/early 4th Century: a detachment of the legion sent to Aquileia becomes known as Legio I Italica Moesiaca (this name is recorded on a couple of inscriptions)

c320s: All or part of the Aquileia detachment are taken into the field army as an independent unit, now known as Moesiaci.

c.350s: A second detachment is drawn either from the remaining Aquileia troops or from I Italica (or another legion) in Moesia. They are named Moesiaci Iuniores to distinguish them from the earlier unit, which takes the Seniores title.

This second drafting could have happened at different times with different units, and the naming was perhaps only formalised later (under Valentinian and Valens, perhaps? They could even have changed the names of certain units to reflect their own seniority).

The theory has the advantage of not involving a reduction in size of the field army units - instead, the border troops are (further) depleted by it. It also avoids a vast empire-wide reorganisation of the entire army at the same time.

I'm sure somebody's suggested this idea before - I'm still combing through the literature on the subject! But does it sound plausible? One problem with it might be the position of the auxilia palatina units, who have no 'original' unit to draw upon. A second enlistment from scratch might be an option though.
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#20
(03-01-2016, 11:34 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: I've always found the idea of legions splitting up and bits of them being sent to opposite ends of the empire rather troublesome - it would be very difficult to organise, amongst other problems!

[..]

I'm sure somebody's suggested this idea before - I'm still combing through the literature on the subject! But does it sound plausible? One problem with it might be the position of the auxilia palatina units, who have no 'original' unit to draw upon. A second enlistment from scratch might be an option though.

Talk about a geriatric thread!  Wink

Some problems with your hypothesis:
1- Legions were constantly being split up and sent to different parts of the empire - vexillations had been sent to wars and sometimes never returned.
2- If I went along and agreed with a vexillation becoming an independent unit (I'm sure that happenened), how about another vexillation being split off afterwards and in turn becoming an independent unit? How would you distinguish that one from the parent unit (your 'seniores') and the first split-off (your 'iuniores') if it was that important to distinguish between them? We know that some legions were being split up in larger or smaller units during this period anyway, possibly ending up with 'new legions' of cohort or double cohort size, permanently stationed or moved to other parts of the empire (such as Legio V Macedonia). yet your system would only allow for the parent unit and the first split-of to be distinguishable as 'seniores' and 'iuniores'.

Of course it's possible that some splits inti sen/iun started this way, that cannot be excluded. But as a system that ended up with mostly only 2 names combined in this manner, I doubt that your suggested mechanism was behind it. My favorite remains a separeted cadre which was then fleshed out.
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#21
(03-02-2016, 11:06 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: how about another vexillation being split off afterwards and in turn becoming an independent unit? How would you distinguish that one from the parent unit (your 'seniores') and the first split-off (your 'iuniores')... your system would only allow for the parent unit and the first split-of to be distinguishable as 'seniores' and 'iuniores'.

I would see the 'parent unit' (the original full-size legion) as being distinct from both the 'seniores' detachment and the 'iuniores'. Once they were formed into smaller sized field army units, these new legions were not subdivided (ie all of them remain at c.1000 men)

So, as another example, we have in ND the three legiones comitatensis Septima Gemina, Septimani Seniores and Septima Iuniores: the original VII Gemina would seem to be the 'parent' of all three. Under this theory, a first (double cohort?) detachment from the original legion in Spain would be taken into the field army as the Septimani. At some later date a second detachment of the same size would be drawn from the original legion and named Septimani Iuniores, with the first detachment now assuming the name Septimani Seniores. At a later date still the remains of the original legion, sent to the east, would become the Septima Gemina.

In this case, all three ended up as comitatensis legions. In the majority of cases, however, the detachments gained added status as palatine units of the field army, while the original 'parent' legion became limitanei.

There are also a number of units in the ND called Gallicani (ie Divitenses and Solenses Gallicani) or Iuniores Gallicani (but never Seniores Gallicani!). These might represent further detachments drawn from the original 'parent' at a later date, perhaps to reinforce a depleted western field army. The 'Gallicani' name would distinguish them from the previously-raised Seniores and Iuniores units.

It's complicated to explain, but I think it seems fairly simple in practice and doesn't involve either a radical increase in overall army numbers or a radical decrease in individual unit size. And it's a lot simpler than the idea of all the field army units being split in half and marched this way and that... [Image: wink.png]
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#22
OK, so now you see the first detachment as the seniores and the second detachment as the inuiores? That's different from the first theory but I can go along with that. But how about a third detachment? Another iuniores? Assuming, as I gather is your Original premesis, that the army needed to make the distinction between parent unit and each detachment. But then we might have two iuniores units of the same name, which would be impractical, plus we never come across this.
The 'Gallicani' solution does not work I think, because thiat runs counter to the original sen/iun naming - why not use such a name to begin with, and combine the stations of the detachments with their (original) unit name? So instead of LegioVIIGemina/Septimani seniores/Septimani iuniores you'd get (hypothetical) LegioVIIGemina/DivitensesSeptima(ni)/Solenses Septima(ni).

For now I rather stick to the notion that the Roman army was not an organisation that stuck to disctinct names - i.e. names varied throughout the sources. we see similar 'sloppiness' when it came to mentioning correct ranks and grades. Meaning; we can't trust the military sources to give us 100% correct details and allowing us to draw conclusions from them. Sad
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#23
(03-02-2016, 12:15 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: so now you see the first detachment as the seniores and the second detachment as the inuiores? That's different from the first theory but I can go along with that.

It's the same theory - I just tried to explain it better! [Image: wink.png]

My first attempt was this:

"c320s... detachment... taken into the field army as an independent unit... known as Moesiaci.


c.350s: A second detachment... named Moesiaci Iuniores to distinguish them from the earlier unit, which takes the [i]Seniores title."[/i]


(03-02-2016, 12:15 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: But how about a third detachment? Another iuniores?

Iuniores Gallicani! [Image: smile.png]

(not used previously, perhaps, as the situation in Gaul was fine at the time and the army there required no dedicated reinforcement?)



(03-02-2016, 12:15 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: we can't trust the military sources to give us 100% correct details and allowing us to draw conclusions from them.

True enough. We're trying to patch together a theory from a few comments in Ammianus, a very late official document, and the few tombstone inscriptions we can put a date on. If any or all of the above are faulty or omit details, the theories collapse!
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#24
(03-02-2016, 12:15 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: Meaning; we can't trust the military sources to give us 100% correct details and allowing us to draw conclusions from them. Sad

 
How can this approach be helpful in investigating the primary sources? Sad Unfortunately, this concept is endemic. From my years on this forum, time and time again I read postings rejecting details found in the primary sources that in the end result in self imposed barriers being constructed that prevent discovery. Could it be that it is the details in the primary sources that are not being correctly understood?
 
For the late Roman legion, many reject the primary sources references to maniples by simply discarding them without any logical reason other than such references cannot be believed or the ancient author is unreliable. Unfortunately, too many only accept primary source material that conforms to their preconceived concept and expectation of what they believe the late Roman legion to be. Has it ever occurred to some that these personal concepts could be wrong and the primary sources could be right? Being wrong does not mean the heavens will fall in. However, it might hurt ones ego. I rather be wrong part of my life than being wrong all my life.
 
If one’s methods don’t produce results, then change the methods and the outlook. Turning a picture upside down does produce a different perspective. I’d rather do this than continue flogging a dead horse.
 
I cannot answer about the seniores. I can say that my research shows that the 6,000 man legion under Diocletian was organised into five vexillations at full strength each numbered 1,200 men. Welcome to the world of the tagma. The 6,000 man legion was the last Pythagorean legion as the system has come to it conclusion or ending. Under Constantine, and this is the first time it happened, the Roman legion was based on the number of iuniores and seniores in the thirty five tribes, rather than just the iuniores, with the seniores being one fifth of the iuniores. The number of seniores had not changed since the introduction of the property class system. The combined number of iuniores and seniores was divided by three (the triad) to produce the size of the late Roman legion. In other words, the Romans had returned to the beginning of the Pythagorean system. And I believe a numeri or numerus (singular or plural I leave to the better educated), is the inner part organisation of a vexillation.
 
If you compile all the data in relation to unit sizes both cavalry and infantry, there is enough information to show a consistent mathematical pattern and what that mathematical pattern is divisible by. Add in Vegetius and you just keep ticking the boxes. But for this to happen, you have to accept that Ammianus and others are correct when they write that the legion was organised into cohorts, maniples and centuries. Doing this will make things much easier than you think.
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#25
(03-01-2016, 11:34 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: The theory has the advantage of not involving a reduction in size of the field army units - instead, the border troops are (further) depleted by it. It also avoids a vast empire-wide reorganisation of the entire army at the same time.

I'm sure somebody's suggested this idea before - I'm still combing through the literature on the subject! But does it sound plausible? One problem with it might be the position of the auxilia palatina units, who have no 'original' unit to draw upon. A second enlistment from scratch might be an option though.

It certainly has plausibility IMO, however, and theory on the seniores/iuniores really has to include the auxilia in some way IMO - but they could be a bit different.
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#26
(03-03-2016, 02:25 AM)Steven James Wrote: a numeri or numerus (singular or plural I leave to the better educated)

Oh, Steven! Were all my efforts in vain?
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#27
(03-03-2016, 06:34 AM)nikgaukroger Wrote: theory on the seniores/iuniores really has to include the auxilia in some way IMO

Yes, that is the difficult bit. But it occurs to me that this theory is quite similar to the idea of battalions, used in British and other armies in the 18th-19th century. The seniores would be the first battalion, and the iuniores the second battalion. The hierarchy would be determined by when they were first formed into an independent unit. Of course, it would be logical to call them (for example) Primi Herculiani and Secunda Herculiani, but that would lead to a confusion with the original legion numbering system, (especially if both were formed from detachments of Legio II Herculia!), which was still in use throughout this period.

So the auxilia could also have had a 'second battalion' raised at some point, also named iuniores to accord with the style used in the field army legions.

I still prefer it to the idea of all the units being split in half, or cadres being split off from each.


(03-03-2016, 02:25 AM)Steven James Wrote: many reject the primary sources references to maniples by simply discarding them without any logical reason... However, it might hurt ones ego.

We've discussed the maniple issue before, of course. I don't think anybody's 'discarding evidence' - it's just that the evidence we have isn't conclusive enough to allow for a firm enough interpretation: Ammianus mentions them, in what could be a stock phrase, but also says the Persians had them. The HA mentions them too, but the HA is notoriously unreliable (not an uncontroversial view, I know!). Vegetius mentions them, but claims they were 10 men strong... That hasn't stopped some scholars (Janniard for one) from suggesting a manipular reorganisation of the later legion.

Others are more cautious. I don't think this is to do with anybody's 'ego'. We'd all love to have some clarity about late army structure, but without further solid evidence, all we can do is compared hypotheses, and then it's a matter of burdens of proof and how much we choose to accept.



(03-03-2016, 02:25 AM)Steven James Wrote: my research shows that the 6,000 man legion under Diocletian was organised into five vexillations at full strength each numbered 1,200 men. Welcome to the world of the tagma.

Tagma is a Greek word, and Latin was still the language of the Roman army at this point. A vexillation is a detachment, so it's unlikely that a legion was organised into vexillations. Vexillations might have been organised into cohorts, but that's different.



(03-03-2016, 02:25 AM)Steven James Wrote: Under Constantine, and this is the first time it happened, the Roman legion was based on the number of iuniores and seniores in the thirty five tribes

The earliest evidence we have for seniores/iuniores dates from AD356, which is some time after Constantine. Sources for the period immediately before that are scanty, so the new titles may have come in before then, but it's interesting that Ammianus does not mention them in his account of Argentorate (at the same date as the inscription above!). He does mention them in relation to the revolt of Procopius some years later though. Another example of Marcellinian omision, perhaps (he was writing an historical narrative, not a military report), or a suggestion that these new titles were not applied across the entire army at the same time?
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#28
(03-03-2016, 12:29 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(03-03-2016, 06:34 AM)nikgaukroger Wrote: theory on the seniores/iuniores really has to include the auxilia in some way IMO

Yes, that is the difficult bit. But it occurs to me that this theory is quite similar to the idea of battalions, used in British and other armies in the 18th-19th century. The seniores would be the first battalion, and the iuniores the second battalion. The hierarchy would be determined by when they were first formed into an independent unit. Of course, it would be logical to call them (for example) Primi Herculiani and Secunda Herculiani, but that would lead to a confusion with the original legion numbering system, (especially if both were formed from detachments of Legio II Herculia!), which was still in use throughout this period.

So the auxilia could also have had a 'second battalion' raised at some point, also named iuniores to accord with the style used in the field army legions.

I still prefer it to the idea of all the units being split in half, or cadres being split off from each.

I too dislike the idea of the units being split in half, although the cadre idea I have little issue with and may be more likely for the auxilia palatina who have no "parent" body to be split off from in the way the old legiones do.
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#29
(03-03-2016, 02:25 AM)Steven James Wrote:
(03-02-2016, 12:15 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: Meaning; we can't trust the military sources to give us 100% correct details and allowing us to draw conclusions from them. Sad

How can this approach be helpful in investigating the primary sources? Sad Unfortunately, this concept is endemic. From my years on this forum, time and time again I read postings rejecting details found in the primary sources that in the end result in self imposed barriers being constructed that prevent discovery. Could it be that it is the details in the primary sources that are not being correctly understood?

I can understand your reactions Steven but in this case you're overreacting.
My statement was a bit limited - but not that limited. So, once more: of course I don't reject (military) sources. I was just demoaning the fact that the Roman military is not in any way similar to, say, the German army of WWII. the Romans don't tell us how long a spear is, what they mean by a 'semispatha', or the correct name of the 'lorica squamata'. Or, for that matter, what a 'dux' is by c. 180 Ad and what he commands. Or consistantly use the correct forms for all the late Roman grades and ranks.

So please don't use me as an example for people who reject sources if they don't fit their theory, for I can recall several discussions between the two of us in which you were quite ready to do just that. Wink

(03-02-2016, 02:12 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(03-02-2016, 12:15 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: But how about a third detachment? Another iuniores?

Iuniores Gallicani! [Image: smile.png]

(not used previously, perhaps, as the situation in Gaul was fine at the time and the army there required no dedicated reinforcement?)

I can't live with that option. Either you have a system in which you want to distinguish between parent unit and detachmentss or you don't.
In case of the former I'd expect not 'iuniores' but perhaps 'secundani' etc. Because vexallations from a parent unit happened more often.
In case of the latter you can use anything and it did not matter anyway.

However, we seem to have only 'seniores' and 'iuniores' (sometimes only one of the two) and no more. That would either point to a split of the unit that happened only once (and I'm not in favour of that theory) or that there was no real 'system' and those names were awarded at random.
And maybe (I hope not!!) some 'iuniores' units of the same name are really not one and the same detachment unit, but all different detachments from one similar parent unit: one 'Septimani seniores' and several 'Septimani iuniores'!!
Dodgy

(03-03-2016, 12:39 PM)nikgaukroger Wrote: I too dislike the idea of the units being split in half, although the cadre idea I have little issue with and may be more likely for the auxilia palatina who have no "parent" body to be split off from in the way the old legiones do.


Agreed.
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#30
Renatus wrote:

Oh, Steven! Were all my efforts in vain?
 
Sorry, I rushed that last posting and did not think to refer to your invaluable guide.
 
Nathan wrote:
We've discussed the maniple issue before, of course. I don't think anybody's 'discarding evidence' - it's just that the evidence we have isn't conclusive enough to allow for a firm enough interpretation: Ammianus mentions them, in what could be a stock phrase, but also says the Persians had them.
 
I have been flicking through a thesis “Roman light infantry and the Art of Combat,” in which the author dismisses all reference to cohorts before 210 BC as being anachronistic, with no evidence provided to support his claim. So the end result is he has blocked his path to discovery and will arrive at the same conclusions as every other historian who chooses this same path to travel down.
 
In regard to Persian maniples, Livy also refers to the Carthaginians as being in maniples. I don’t have a problem with this as I believe both Ammianus and Livy are describing Persian and Carthaginian units as being similar in size to a Roman maniple. So if a Carthaginian unit was organised into centuries of 100 men and a Roman maniple has 120 men, I guess Ammianus and Livy thought close enough is good enough.
 
Nathan wrote:
Vegetius mentions them, but claims they were 10 men strong...That hasn't stopped some scholars (Janniard for one) from suggesting a manipular reorganisation of the later legion.
 
I believe the ten man maniple belongs to the period of centuriate legion in which a century was organised into ten maniples each of ten men. For me, it belongs to the pre Pythagorean reform. Livy writes that Tarquinius Superbus mistrusting his Latin allies decided to organise the Roman army into maniples consisting of one Roman century and one Latin century, with both centuries under the command of a Roman centurion. This is the reform of the maniple with two centuries now making a maniple. You cannot make a ten man maniple have two centuries of five men, which Varro claims was a manus.
 
Nathan wrote:
A vexillation is a detachment, so it's unlikely that a legion was organised into vexillations. Vexillations might have been organised into cohorts, but that's different.
 
I stand by my research that a legion was organised into vexillations (five), with a vexillation consisting of two cohorts. I would say when required, a vexillation can be created from choosing maniples from various legions that then formed two cohorts or one vexillation. The system has to be flexible. The size of a vexillation can also vary especially if the pilani are not included. An example of this is Hyginus’ 1,600 vexillari. Hyginus equates a century as consisting of 80 men, so if we remove one century of pilani from a cohort of 480 men, Hyginus 1,600 vexillari represents four cohorts each of 400 men. Now following my premise a vexillation equates to two cohorts, the 1,600 vexillari represents two vexillations. Please do not hesitate to tell me where I am in error.
 
If you remove one century of pilani from each cohort, the legion is reduced to 4,000 men. When crossing the Rhine in 14 AD, the army of Germanicus consisted of 12,000 legionaries (arma), twenty six cohorts of auxiliary (socii) and eight alae of cavalry. (Tacitus The Annals 1 49 4) The 12,000 legionaries could represent three legions each of 4,000 men.
 
In (?) AD, Marcus Trebellius subdued the Clitae tribe at Mount Taurus in Cappadocia with 4,000 legionaries and some picked auxiliaries. (Tacitus The Annals 6 41)
 
In 35 AD, the legate Marcus Trebillius, with 4,000 legionaries and a picked force of auxiliaries are reported to have suppressed a revolt in Cappadocia. (Tacitus The Annals 6 41 1)
 
In all three references, could it be that a legion of 4,000 men equates to the removal of 800 pilani (ten centuries) from each cohort? This would mean a vexillation amounted to 800 men. Again please do not hesitate to correct me if I am in error.
 
In ? AD, while campaigning against the Tiridates in Armenia, when both opposing commanders met for a parley, the Roman commander Corbulo posted his allied infantry and auxiliaries on the wings, with the sixth legion in the centre. The sixth legion had been reinforced during the night with 3,000 men from the third legion summoned from another camp during the night to give the appearance the sixth legion looked like a single legion with one eagle. (Tacitus Annals 13 38) Tacitus reports the Roman commander Corbulo had divided his strength and set up camps at widely separate points. Could it be that the sixth legion possibly numbered only 1,600 pilani acting as garrison troops for the camp, which had to be reinforced by 3,200 men from the third legion, which has been rounded from 3200 men (1,600 hastati and 1,600 principes)?
 
In 67 AD, to suppress an uprising Vespasian sent Cerealius, the commander of the fifth legion with a force of 3,000 infantry and 600 cavalry. (Josephus (The Jewish War 3 32) Could it be that the 3,000 infantry of the fifth legion has been rounded from 3,200 infantry (twenty maniples) with the 1,600 pilani (10 maniples) remaining behind to act as garrison troops? This would mean a vexillation amounted to 640 men. Again, please do not hesitate to correct me if I am in error.
 
Nathan wrote:
The earliest evidence we have for seniores/iuniores dates from AD356, which is some time after Constantine. Sources for the period immediately before that are scanty, so the new titles may have come in before then, but it's interesting that Ammianus does not mention them in his account of Argentorate (at the same date as the inscription above!). He does mention them in relation to the revolt of Procopius some years later though. Another example of Marcellinian omision, perhaps (he was writing an historical narrative, not a military report), or a suggestion that these new titles were not applied across the entire army at the same time?
 
I do not have the answer to why units would be called seniores. Once it meant those above the military age, whose main role was to garrison the walls of Rome. The seniores also did not vote. I wouldn’t think that units termed seniores would be applied in a derogative manner. Every time I investigate this, I am always pulled back to the seniores in the tribal system being one fifth of the iuniores, and why are their numbers in the tribe now included in the overall calculation which determines the size of the Roman legion. Could the first vexillation of each legion be the seniores? I have no idea. I once thought the seniores and the triarius could be one and the same thing, but have ruled that out.
 
I once tried to count the number of iuniores units to seniores units in the ND to see if I could find a relationship with the ratio with the ratio of iuniores and seniores in the tribal system, but the translation of the ND I used was not clear on identifying some units as iuniores or seniores. This could be the way the ND was written. So I could not come to any conclusion. I prefer to crunch numbers, which I find to be more tangible.
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