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Late Roman Army Grade/Rank List under Anastasius
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I thought I would bring to the attention of the members here an interesting development I stumbled over while doing some research online. It is in regard to the discovery back in the early 80s of an Anastasian edict at Perge. Fatih Onur has made some preliminary details of the writings and published some extracts. He is hoping to publish in full later. As well as ‘The Roman Army in Pamphylia: From the Third to Sixth Centuries A.D.’ which is available online and was what first alerted me, he has also graciously sent me a follow-up paper entitled ‘The Military Edict of Anastasius from Perge’ which elaborates in more detail the edict itself.

What follows is a précis of his work, nothing more.

The Edict.

The stone fragments discovered over 30 years ago formed 3 slabs erected in the city of Perge in the reign of the emperor Anastasius. Each of the 3 slabs recorded a separate element (A, B and C) detailed as follows:

A] This is a Greek translation of the sermo of Anastasius detailing a legislation of a military disposition

B] This is a Greek translation of the praeceptum of a Magister Militum endorsing the emperor’s edict

C] This is a Greek notitia listing the numbers of men and their ranks/grades and their annona

Fatih Onur concludes that C represents legio palatini units stationed in Perge under the command of the Magister and notes that the sizes of the men indicate double-sized units.
Now the bulk of A is devoted to curtailing abuses in the army revolving around promotion, length of service, corruption, and greed. The last section details punishments which include for example being fined 50 pounds of gold (3600 solidi or 600 annona). B echoes these edicts but in the words of the Magister Militum Praesentalis and adds a few details to do with banishment and the death penalty.

It is C however which really grabbed my attention. This is a notitia in Greek that records the numbers of men in each grade group (scholae) and their provisions in kind and the amounts of commutation. Faith Onur argues that C was already prepared before B due to a reference in B and therefore is linked to the emperor’s original sermo. The information is provided in tabular form with each row recording a grade group and again Fatih Onur argues that the details indicate the data was taken directly from the praetorian prefecture. The key to the edict is the enumeration of the number of soldiers and their units in the muster rolls (matricula). C is an abridged list designed to prevent abuse of the military system to do with corruption. It is an attempt to record and fix rewards and pay.

Fatih Onur brings to attention the most interesting part of the inscription which is on the last slab ©. Here is a list of the grades in the Roman army and the rewards due to each grade and their numbers within a unit. In the article he has sent me, he presents the list of the grades alongside a comparative list by Vegetius and a subsequent one by the later Lydus. What Fatih Onur finds remarkable is the similarity of grades from circa 430-55 (Vegetius) to AD mid-sixth century (Lydus). This Anastasian edict (491-500) details very similar grades.

Alas the paper Fatih Onur sent me does not go into detail regarding the actual unit sizes (what first piqued my interest!) but there is an attached photo of slab C of the notitia. Of course I have no Greek translation skills at hand.

What I am going to do now then is the grade breakdown as presented on C. Those familiar with Vegetius and Lydus will be able to see the similarity and also differences. I hope this is of interest!

Inscription of Perge Slab C:

Tribunus Maior
Tribunus Minor
Ordinarii
Augustales
Augustales alii (1)
Augustales alii (2)
Flaviales
Flaviales alii
Signiferi
Optiones
Veredarii
Veredarii alii
Vexillarii
Imaginiferi
Librarii
Mensores
Tubicines
Cornicines
Bucinatores
Preaco
Armaturae Duplares
Beneficiarii
Torquati semissales
Brachiati semissales
Armaturae semissales
Munifices
Clerici and Deputati

He has advised me that he presented more details at the last Roman Army Congress at Lyon which will be published at the end of summer. I was really hoping that I would be able to get access to the unit sizes as I know this is a matter of some interest but the article he forwarded on to me does not go into those details – despite the photo of C in its entirety.

Anyway, I thought I would pass this on – it certainly got my attention when I came across it and then contacted him for more detail!
Francis Hagan

The Barcarii
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Late Roman Army Grade/Rank List under Anastasius - by Longovicium - 08-17-2011, 05:45 PM

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