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ταξιάρχης: The Roman taxiarchos
#1
Book XII

19
In Moesia, Marinus, a unit commander (ταξιάρχης), was chosen by the soldiers to reign. (Circa 248 AD)


Book XIII

8
Moreover, he (Magnentius) advanced toward this with haste, because Silvanus, one of his unit commanders (ταξιάρχων), along with a multitude of infantry (όπλιτϖν) , had deserted him and surrendered to Constantius, the emperor.

10
Then the Caesar Julian, having become conceited and haughty because he feared Constantius, who was envious of him due to his successes, lest, as he had done with his brother Gallus, he surreptiously deprive him, too, of life, contemplated rebellion and, when he had won over some of the unit commanders (ταξιάρχων) under him, through them he incited the army, and it united and acclaimed him Augustus.

Since one of the unit commanders (ταξιάρχων) was wearing a golden torque which held stones set in gold, they took this and fit it to his head. He dispatched Pentadius, magister of the imperial units (ταξεων), with others to Constantius…


13
When they (The ships of emperor Julian’s Persian invasion) already had been reduced to ashes, since many of the unit commanders (ταξιάρχων) kept objecting that what the deserters were saying was an ambush and deception…

From:
The History of Zonaras, from Alexander Severus to the death of Theodosius the Great, translation by Thomas M.Banchich and Eugene N.Lane


So, who is the taxiarchos and how many soldiers did he command?
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#2
(05-17-2017, 04:32 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Marinus, a unit commander (ταξιάρχης)

Marinus is mentioned by Zosimus and Zonaras, but is fairly obscure - his name was probably Tiberius Claudius Marinus Pacatianus, known from coinage. Mócsy suggests that he was given a temporary command (as Dux, perhaps?) over the troops in Moesia and Pannonia, although he could have been a senatorial legatus.


(05-17-2017, 04:32 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Silvanus, one of his unit commanders (ταξιάρχων)

Silvanus was Tribunus Scholae Armaturum in 351, when he deserted Magnentius at the battle of Mursa (Ammianus 15.5.33). He was later Magister Peditum, and imperial usurper.


(05-17-2017, 04:32 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: some of the unit commanders (ταξιάρχων)

Ammianus (20,4,13) has Julian inviting the officers of the Petulantes and other auxilia units to dinner in Paris, where he won them to his cause. The phrase is generic rather than specific: ad convivium proceribus conrogatis, which I would guess means something like 'he invited the chief men to dinner'. Probably tribunes, perhaps campidoctores too?



(05-17-2017, 04:32 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: one of the unit commanders (ταξιάρχων) was wearing a golden torque which held stones set in gold, they took this and fit it to his head... Pentadius, magister of the imperial units (ταξεων)

The first of these was Maurus, draconarius of the Petulantes (Amm, 20,4,18) - he later became comes rei militaris in Thrace. Pentadius was magister officiorum, and commanded the scholae - these would be the 'imperial units' Z mentions.


(05-17-2017, 04:32 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: many of the unit commanders (ταξιάρχων) kept objecting that what the deserters were saying

This incident in Ammianus probably falls into a lacuna. He does describe a 'conference of the general staff' at this time, described as consilio cum primatibus - which is just a 'council of leading men' I think - so we don't know the exact rank of the commanders. Something like Comites re militaris or senior tribunes is most like I'd say.



(05-17-2017, 04:32 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: who is the taxiarchos and how many soldiers did he command?

It seems this word could be used to describe officers of various ranks, from commanders and senior soldiers of the auxilia and scholae to generals, duces and comites.

This post (and the one following) is interesting about the use of ταξίαρχος to mean centurion, and the possible later development of the word.
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#3
Hi - ταξίαρχος is one of those generic terms our Greek sources use when dealing with a Roman army structure that expressed itself in latin. This post does remind me that Zonaras is the only source that says Silvanus was an infantry commander - which is interesting given the Scholae were cavalry troops. I suspect he was being 'generic' in his use of terminology...
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#4
It seems there is a small connection between taxiarchos-tribune, but still not yet fully materialized. It looks like this discussion has to be put on hold until more primary data is accumulated.
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#5
(05-18-2017, 03:15 AM)markhebb Wrote: Zonaras is the only source that says Silvanus was an infantry commander

I was just looking through Julianus's Oration I  to Constantius - he is describing the same event here, but suggests that Silvanus was commanding cavalry: "Even before the battle at Myrsa, a division of cavalry (τάξις μὲν ἱππέων I think) came over to your side, and when you had conquered Italy bodies of infantry and distinguished legions did the same."
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