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References to late Roman army???
#1
There are some interesting references to be found here.

 
Vegetius (3 8) cites that from each century 4 cavalrymen and 4 infantry were selected for sentry-duty.
 
When discussing the execution of George of Melitene in 303 AD, bishop of Ancyra in Glaatia in 431 AD, Abba Theodotus writes that “After these things four quaternions of soldiers laid him out and beat him with leather whips.
 
The Passion of Luxurius, Camerinus and Cisellus: 1. In their time the emperors Diocletian and Maximian...6. The governor was moved to anger by these words, and ordered that Luxurius be whipped by 4 groups of 4 soldiers.
 
Isidore (Etymologica 9 3 31) writes that a quinquagenarii was at the head of 50 soldiers. In support of this, Abba Theodotus writes that the number of men guarding George of Melitene consisted of “2 captains of 50 men and their 100 men.”
 
The Passion of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion: 3. There was at that same time in the army a legion of soldiers who were called the Thebaei. A legion so-called then contained 6,600 men under arms.
 
The Passion of St. Marcellus: 3a. the former centurion of the first cohort, Marcellus, the centurio ordinarius.
 
The Passion of St. Menas of Cotyaeum: 1. His career was the military, and he himself was in command of the cohors Rutilliacorum.
 
The Passion of St. Menas of Cotyaeum: And the righteous Emperor commanded that 123,000 fighting-men should guard it against foreign tribes; and they guarded both the church and the people who came thereto.
 
St. Menas Coptic Encomium: The king, Zeno, also established there a garrison of 1200 soldiers against the inroads of the barbarian horde...In the time of Anastasius, the king, pious zeal filled the heart of the Praetorian Prefect because he too heard of the wonders and miracles wrought by the holy Apa Mena.
 
The Passion of St. Theagenes of Parium: 2. During the time of the emperor Licinius, Theagenes, the son of a bishop, was conscripted in Phrygia and sent to the legion entitled the Second Trajan under the tribune Zelicinthius and the praepositus Posidonius. This legion was stationed in Parium in the Hellespontus, which city is superior to Cyzicus...3. Then the tribune Zelicinthius, exceedingly angered and grinding his teeth like a lion in the wilderness, said to the whole legion,...When 8 centurions were changed...4. Again the tribune ordered him to be beaten...And when the tribune changed 18 centurions. 6. And there he was stretched out to four columns. Passing by and seeing him, the optio of the legion said...
 
Armenian Passion of St. Theodore the General: 14. And they came and threw themselves at the feet of the saint along with the soldiers who were with them, in number 82...15. When the Emperor (Licinius) heard this, he was exceeding wroth, and ordered the Consul whose name was Cestus, to take 300 of his soldiery, and to go and behead them.
 
The 60 Martyrs of Gaza: 1. The martyrdom of the 60 soldiers of Christ who were captured by the wicked Saracens in the Christ-loving city of Gaza during the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the 27th year of the emperor Heraclius who had been crowned by God.
 
The Passion of St. George: And it came to pass during the reign of Diocletian the lawless idolater who destroyed the whole earth, that there was a certain general under his authority whose name was Euchios; and he was savage in appearance and of an exceeding wicked disposition. And the emperor Diocletian appointed him 3000 soldiers, and sent them into Egypt to overthrow the churches and to build temples to polluted idols in every place.
 
So Euchios the general made obeisance to the emperor and took the edict, and the emperor appointed him 3000 soldiers and sent them to Syria...Then the general took the soldiers with him, and he embarked them in ships and sailed to Syria.
 
When the governor had read the letter he rejoiced in Saint George greatly, and immediately appointed him general over 5000 men. ...My father Anastasius was 25 years of age when he received the office of governor, and the emperor gave him a company of 3000 armed soldiers for the maintenance of his authority over the whole country of Palestine.
 
After this another governor whose name was Justus, was appointed in the room of my father, and he took the place of my blessed father to me; he moreover appointed me general over 5000 soldiers,...and he caused 8 soldiers and 5 military tribunes to watch over him in prison until the next day.
 
The Passion of St. Christopher: At that time, when Dagnus ruled in the city of Samos, a man came from the island, 3. When king Dagnus heard this, he sent 200 soldiers to him in order to bring him to him. But when the soldiers saw him, they were afraid to go near him, and he sent another 200 soldiers.
 
Isidore gives the size of a maniple at 200 men
 
Armenian Passion of St. Callistratus: But when the soldiers and their captain beheld him, they were much dismayed. 6. Then 40 and 9 of the soldiers fell down before the blessed Callistratus, saying: " 8.But thereupon the unholy captain ordered them to be put in prison, in order that he might think about them: for he was very grieved at having lost 50 men out of the number of his soldiers. 13 But when we saw the light which shot forth over the heads of the saints, and heard the blissful voice along with the earthquake and the breaking of the idols, we believed, - we, the soldiers, 105 of us.
 
The Passion of St. Typasius
1. In the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian Christianity had been a small religion still, and wars had sprung up throughout almost the entire world. In eastern regions a certain Narses by name had assumed despotic rule, Carausius had rebelled in Britain, Achilleus was laying waste Egypt and Libya, and in the Gallic regions also the Bacaudae were cruelly raging. Moreover in the province of Mauretania Sitifensis the natives, who are called the Quinquegentiani and had always been peaceful, were performing acts of brigandage. The resources of the provincials were plundered, and all the land-owners and inhabitants were ruined. Many governors had set out against these brigands, but all had been conquered and perished with their great armies, to such an extent that because of their great fear no comes would dare to visit the region, and those duces who were sent to the province of Sitifensis either feigned illness or pretended that they were afraid of shipwreck and resided on the islands neighbouring Italy. So desperate was the situation that Africa seemed to the Romans to have been lost to their empire. Therefore Diocletian, who was hard pressed by the havoc of so many wars, promoted Maximian from the rank of Caesar to Augustus, and sent him to Sitifensis against the Quinquegentiani, to call all the soldiers to help by his edict. 2. He was forced into active service again by his praepositus, and along with other vexillarii went to battle...The praepositus of the cuneus grabbed him straight-away and cast him in irons.
 
4. and that all veterans should be recalled to military service....Then the praepositus saltus and the decurio dragged him out, along with the military belt which he had put aside, and his shield and spears from the same store-room, and handed him over to Claudius who was then dux of the province of Mauretania Caesariensis.
 
5. When the comes Claudius had seen him, he said to the praepositus and the decurio...The decurion replied, "Typasius used to serve in our vexillatio, but he won an honourable discharge from Maximian Augustus in the province of Sitidensis. Recently there came a command from our emperor Diocletian and Maximian that all veterans were to be recalled to their former standards; and we summoned Typasius to return to military service.
 
The Passion of St. Florian: 2. At that time pagan fury sent forth two most savage boars, Diocletian and Maximian, to wreak destruction upon the vineyard of the Lord with their tusks. 3. Bidding farwell to his [slaves] and releasing them likewise, he took to the road in a hurry, together with 40 soldiers.
 
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#2
Certainly a mass of information there - thanks! Most of it comes, I think, from this collection of documents compiled and translated by David Woods.

Woods is an excellent, and often very insightful, scholar - it's worth also reading some of his commentary on these and similar martyr passiones. Many of them are not quite as straightforward as they might look. They were intended to add lustre and corroborating evidence to the cults of various saints, and since there was apparently quite a competition between the various saints and their cults and relics by the later 4th century, we need to be quite critical of some of the details. A lot of them, while set in the period of the persecutions, were not written until the later 4th or 5th century, and some of what they contain seems more appropriate for that era than their supposed setting. There are also a number of direct copyings, and references to scripture.

Theagenes of Parium looks very compelling - the appearance of a vexillation of the Egyptian legion II Traiana on the Hellespont under Licinius would fit well with the campaign against Constantine c.AD324, when Licinius was presumably assembling an army from throughout the east. And we learn at the end that this legion was later 'destroyed in battle' - in one of the final civil war conflicts, presumably.

But Woods's commentary here is a lot more skeptical: not only does the passio copy elements from the similar story of Theodore the recruit (including similar statements by officers and similar latin rank titles), but other details seem to link it to the later 4th century. Woods suggests that the whole thing is a fiction of the 380s.

But even if these stories are largely fictitious, it doesn't mean the details are false. A legion vexillation of the AD320s probably was led by a tribune and/or a praepositus. Many of the other ranks mentioned could be accurate too. The numbers are perhaps a bit trickier though.

The 'four quarternions' that were apparently sent to beat various martyrs, for example, are perhaps a reference to the Bible (Acts 12.4: "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him"). A quarternion could have been half of a contubernion, of course (if we accept that the latter numbered 8 men!). But it might be suspicious that the word doesn't seem to appear outside a religious context: some of the numbering might relate better to Hellenistic military practices, preserved in the original Greek and Aramaic scriptures, rather than Roman.

Woods also cautions against the use of detailed-seeming military nomenclature - this interesting essay about the passio of St Typasius, besides a lot of useful discussion about whether soldiers gave up or kept their weapons and equipment on discharge, suggests that the details of the story relate (again) to events in the later 4th century. Although he does make the point that the rank of magister signorum, found in another passio, has recently been supported by an inscription, so he's not entirely dismissive!

This is interesting though:

(04-17-2017, 09:12 AM)Steven James Wrote: the former centurion of the first cohort, Marcellus, the centurio ordinarius.

The original Latin text of the passio of Marcellus (usually considered one of the more genuine martyr stories) actually introduces the hero as Marcellus ex centurionibus astasianis - in other words, I would guess, he was a centurion of the Hastati, also called centurio ordinarius... No mention of cohorts, first or otherwise, but we know that Maximian's legions in AD298 did contain such things...
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#3
Many thanks for the informative reply Nathan.

 
Nathan wrote:
A lot of them, while set in the period of the persecutions, were not written until the later 4th or 5th century, and some of what they contain seems more appropriate for that era than their supposed setting.
 
That also is my conclusion, and like the Theban legion, writing in the 5th century and using military numbers from earlier periods. However, I do like the reference to two captains of 50 and their 100 men. It gives Isidore a partner in crime.
 
I am still reading through much of Woods work, but there are other material that I have found to be extremely interesting, especially to the subject of the gods being feeble, old and dying, which is something I have found only in the writings of St.Augustine.
 
Nathan wrote:
A quarternion could have been half of a contubernion, of course (if we accept that the latter numbered 8 men!). But it might be suspicious that the word doesn't seem to appear outside a religious context: some of the numbering might relate better to Hellenistic military practices, preserved in the original Greek and Aramaic scriptures, rather than Roman.
 
The fact that Vegetius, writing about the Roman army, has 4 infantry and 4 cavalry selected for guard duty tells me to keep an open mind and to not entirely dismiss a Roman connection. It is important to keep in mind that during the principate, a contubernium of 8 men and a century of 80 men means a contubernium was one tenth of a century. So the 4 men selected for guard duty in Vegetius could be part of a 40 man century. I am finding more references to 40 man units on a constant basis.
 
Anyway time will tell, but I am excited.

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#4
Quote:Isidore (Etymologica 9 3 31) writes that a quinquagenarii was at the head of 50 soldiers. In support of this, Abba Theodotus writes that the number of men guarding George of Melitene consisted of “2 captains of 50 men and their 100 men.”

Considering when Isidore writes (6th century) this is probably Pseudo-Maurice's Pentakontarkhos
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#5
The Pacatus, Panegyric of Theodosius:

"Behold, dawn at last, and already the plain was bristling with troops: cavalry sent out to the wings, light troops placed in front of the standards, cohorts arranged by maniples, legions deployed in squares, moving their columns forward at a quick pace, occupied the whole field as far as the eye could see."

cohorts arranged my maniples...interesting.
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#6
(04-17-2017, 11:31 AM)Steven James Wrote: So the 4 men selected for guard duty in Vegetius could be part of a 40 man century. I am finding more references to 40 man units on a constant basis.

Hi Steven,

First of all, thanks for that very nice list of sources, I wasn't aware of all of them.
However I would personally not make such 'hard' conclusions based on the nature of the sources. Having worked with/from source material from this period over the past three decades I'd have some wariness making comparisons about numbers. Starting with the date of origin of such a source, the number of men mentioned could be based on anything from reality to fantasy or a love for round numbers. It's good to keep them in mind as a comparison but they can't be more than that.
Nathan also pointed out the traps which are present in such sources.

The 'Theban legion' is a deathtrap. So many myths are centred on that 'fictional unit' that we can't begin to filter out any supposed Original material.

Vegetius is of course not comparable to a saint's life or a poem, but even there I would not conclude that 4 men on guard duty would lead to a century of 40 men. A half-contubernium on guard duty could perfectly lead to the other half resting, and a unit of 40 men could very well be a detachment of an 80-strong parent unit. The latter goes of course for any number of men being sent to carry out some duty.
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Robert Vermaat
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#7
Wasn't V Macedonica stationed in Thebes? Or was it Memphis?
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#8
(04-19-2017, 12:29 PM)Flavivs Aetivs Wrote: Wasn't V Macedonica stationed in Thebes? Or was it Memphis?

The legion in the story is called Thebaei  - very probably the same as the palatine legion of that name in Italy in the ND. These might originally have been a detachment of one of the units under the command of the Dux Thebaidos - perhaps Legio II Flavia Constantia Thebaeorum, or III Diocletiana from Thebes itself.

David Woods has a paper about the 'Theban Legion' here - he suggests that the legend might relate to Egyptian troops brought to Europe by Theodosius c.380; he goes on to concoct an ingenious theory that it was invented as propaganda to persuade the Thebaei, by that time fighting for Eugenius, to defect back to Theodosius's side - as a number of units apparently did. Very plausible, if lacking direct evidence!

But most of the military details in the story, which wasn't written down until the 5th century, are probably just 'garnish' designed to make it look authentic. If there was any large-scale massacre of Christians in the army in the 3rd-4th century, Christian writers at the time would certainly have mentioned it; they did not.

The number of men supposedly in the legion - 6,666 - is close enough to the Biblical 'number of the beast' to make it suspicious. Particularly, perhaps, if the legion was presumed to be drawn from III Diocletiana - Diocletian being the principal architect of the 'Great Persecution'... [Image: shocked.png]
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#9
Robert wrote:

However I would personally not make such 'hard' conclusions based on the nature of the sources. Having worked with/from source material from this period over the past three decades I'd have some wariness making comparisons about numbers. Starting with the date of origin of such a source, the number of men mentioned could be based on anything from reality to fantasy or a love for round numbers. It's good to keep them in mind as a comparison but they can't be more than that.
 
Seeing where the numbers take us does no harm. My method is to place data in brackets of 100 year periods. There is something magical about taking numbers and removing them from their surrounding text. It eliminates distraction. So after putting data into brackets of 100 years, there is a strong continuity of the numbers, which require (for me) investigation, and when this is done, it does show the data has a common denominator.
 
Robert wrote:
The 'Theban legion' is a deathtrap. So many myths are centred on that 'fictional unit' that we can't begin to filter out any supposed Original material.
 
In relation to the Theban legion I am not concerned about the authenticity of whether such an event happened; I am only interested in the size of the legion as provided by a few different sources.
 
Robert wrote:
Vegetius is of course not comparable to a saint's life or a poem, but even there I would not conclude that 4 men on guard duty would lead to a century of 40 men.
 
But it could, and it should not be dismissed. Historians use certain numbers if they conform to their theory. I do not work that way, I use all the numbers I can, and then I let the numbers do the talking. Mathematics has a language all of its own and it can tell a powerful story.
 
Robert wrote:
A half-contubernium on guard duty could perfectly lead to the other half resting, and a unit of 40 men could very well be a detachment of an 80-strong parent unit.
 
And it could be a contubernium. It cannot be ruled out. I have found that Roman military mathematics is a decimal system, so 4 men from a unit of 80 men represents one twentieth of 80 and that is wrong. In relation to Roman mathematics, Cicero makes it known that when you reach the number 10, you start again at 1.
 
Nathan wrote:
The number of men supposedly in the legion - 6,666 - is close enough to the Biblical 'number of the beast' to make it suspicious.
 
Do you think you could be falling into a trap of your own making here? The numbers given for the Theban legion from various sources are 6600, 6666, 6660, and 6585 men, so I think we can rule out the any biblical connection to the number of the beast. So from the above we have disparities from the highest figure to the lowest figure of 15 men, 75 men and 81 men. Some figures when compared have a difference of 6 men, others 66 men, which is the number of cavalry Vegetius allocates to cohorts 2 to 10.

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#10
(04-19-2017, 04:15 PM)Steven James Wrote: The numbers given for the Theban legion from various sources are 6600, 6666, 6660, and 6585 men, so I think we can rule out the any biblical connection to the number of the beast.

Hmm, perhaps so! They are at least close to Vegetius's figures - which might show that some people at least around the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th believed a legion to be that size (in the past, perhaps...?)

The ranks in the Maurice story are quite interesting though: "Maurice, primicerius, as it is called, of that legion then, who together with campidoctor Exuperius, as they say in the army, and the senator militum Candidus..."

Campidoctor appears in the legions in the later 2nd century and was clearly a regular position by Ammianus's day - but primicerius and senator both seem to be very late. Vegetius doesn't mention them, Hieronymous puts them in his cavalry ranks, and they appear on the Concordia inscriptions (c.AD400) among the auxilia palatina. So it would be tempting to include both in the the auxilia/cavalry/scholae rank system (biarchus, centenarius, ducenarius, senator, primicerius). But then the Patermouthis documents mention a primicerius in a limitanei legion of the 6th (?) century...

So whatever the author of this text thinks he's describing, it appears he's drawing his details from the army organisation of the late 4th to early 5th century. The Theagones story at least appears to get the right sort of ranks for the earlier 4th century, while the Typasius one, at one point, seems to mix up civilian and military titles.
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#11
Nathan wrote:

Hmm, perhaps so! They are at least close to Vegetius's figures - which might show that some people at least around the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th believed a legion to be that size (in the past, perhaps...?)
 
Nothing comes from a vacuum, and these authors are definitely drawing on correct sources. The sizes for the Theban legion are correct; it is Vegetius that includes a simply mathematical mistake. Make that correction and the numbers are one and the same.
 
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#12
(04-20-2017, 07:33 AM)Steven James Wrote: The sizes for the Theban legion are correct

For which era though? The story is supposedly set in the AD280s, was first recounted about a hundred years later, and first written down about fifty years after that.

If a palatine legion like the Thebaei numbered 6,600 men, the late Roman field army would have contained 838,200 legionaries alone. That gives a total army size well in excess of a million men.
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#13
Nathan wrote:

For which era though? The story is supposedly set in the AD280s, was first recounted about a hundred years later, and first written down about fifty years after that. If a palatine legion like the Thebaei numbered 6,600 men, the late Roman field army would have contained 838,200 legionaries alone. That gives a total army size well in excess of a million men.
 
A legion of 6,600 men consists of 6,000 infantry and 600 cavalry, and was introduced in 192/3 AD, and by 324 AD, a legion of 6,000 infantry did not exist. A 6,000 man legion can operate in the field with 5,000 infantry or 5500 infantry; it depends on who remains behind to guard the camp or baggage.
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#14
(04-20-2017, 09:27 AM)Steven James Wrote: A legion of 6,600 men consists of 6,000 infantry and 600 cavalry, and was introduced in 192/3 AD,

Why AD 192/3?
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#15
Ross wrote:

Why AD 192/3?
 
As the Roman saeculum represented life, death, and rebirth, after the passing of two saeculums, only then did the Romans increase the number of centuries in the tribes, and one of those dates is 192 AD, and in 193 AD, Septimus Severus conducted a levy throughout Italy. This is no coincidence, as Augustus was the last emperor that's reign occurred at the end of the passing of two saeculums.
 
Roman time is intertwined with the saeculum, and Rome’s growth from infancy to youth, manhood and old age. Added to this is the prophecy of Rome being protected for 1,200 years by the Roman gods. Claudian and St Augustine make mention of what is to come at the end of the 1,200 year period.
 
Censorinus (The Birthday Book 16 2), (17 5-6) writing about the Etruscan saeculum: “And so it is written that the first four Ages were each 105 years long; the Fifth was 123 years; the Sixth and Seventh were 119 years; the Eight was still going on; the Ninth and Tenth remained; and after these were over would come the end of the Etruscan name.”
 
The seven Etruscan ages amount to 781 years. Plutarch (Quaestiones Convivales 8 7 1) writes that many believed Pythagoras was an Etruscan (Tyrrhenian), and this has resulted in many Pythagorean concepts incorrectly being labelled as Etruscan.
 
Censorinus (The Birthday Book 17 15) further writes that “As for how many centuries are allocated to the city of Rome...because Romulus saw 12 vultures as an augury when he founded the city, then since the Roman people had passed 120 years unharmed, they would make it to 1,200 years.”
 
When the 1,200 years are subtracted from the seven Etruscan ages of 781 years leaves 419 years. You have to be careful here. St Augustine’s first description of the Six Ages of the World is a blatant copy of the Roman system, especially in regard to the ages having different numbers of generations. Intermixed with the above is Rome’s growth as a man.
 
Ammianus (14 6 4-5) wrote that the Roman people from the very cradle to the end of their childhood,[url=http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ammian/14*.html#note27][/url] a period of about 300 years, carried on wars about her walls. Then, entering adult life they crossed the Alps and the sea. Then Rome grew from youth and manhood, then entrusted the management of her inheritance to the Caesars while declining into old age, and a quieter period of life.
 
Lactantius (The Divine Institutes 7 15) citing Seneca (possibly the elder), divided the times of the Roman city by ages, but does not distinguish the ages in the number of years. The 1st age was Rome’s infancy under Romulus, by whom Rome was brought into being. Rome’s age of boyhood was experienced under the reign of the other kings. Rome’s next age occurs in the reign of Tarquinius, “when Rome obeyed laws rather than kings.” Rome’s youth was terminated by the end of the Punic war, when it began to be manly. After the destruction of Carthage, Rome’s power stretched over the whole world then it was plunged into civil war. This period of civil war was its first old age, during which Rome “fell back to the government of a single ruler, as it was returning to a second infancy (the monarchy). During the reign of the emperors, Rome grew old.”
 
In his introduction to his Epitome, Florus Epitome (1 1-8) wrote that: “The Roman people during the 700 years, from the time of King Romulus down to that of Caesar Augustus, achieved so much in peace and war that, if a man were to compare the greatness of their empire with its years, he would consider its size as out of all proportion to its age...if anyone were to contemplate the Roman people as he would a single individual and review its whole life, how it began, how it grew up, how it arrived at what may be called the maturity of its manhood, and how it subsequently as it were reached old age, he will find that it went through four ages of progress.”
 
All of the above is then combined with the Secular Games according to the Council of Fifteen as outlined by Censorinus (The Birthday Book 17 9).
 
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