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Late Roman Army - seniores and iuniores
#1
Quote:I really appreciate the work of Hoffmann, but one has to use it VERY carefully.

But the real big problem with Hoffmann is his assumption, that the partition in seniores-iuniores took place in 365, and that all seniores originally were sent west and all iuniores east. That is proven wrong, at least one partitioned unit mentioned in 356 AND it being a seniores in the east (A Fourth-Century Latin Soldier's Epitaph at Nakolea, Thomas Drew-Bear, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 81, 1977 (1977), pp. 257-274). So all theories of Hoffmann regarding when and where a later seniores/iuniores unit could have been in the past are no longer valid.

Jens, I really think you are reacting too strong here.

You make it sound like Hoffmann’s study is some pseudo-scientific work – it most certainly is not! Sure, the book is more than 30 years old, and hence there have been new discoveries. Sure, Hoffmann knows where he wants to go – but it is a work based on very decent study and a mountain of source-material! That only would be enough reason to use the book.

Sure, the existence of a seniors unit prior to Hoffmann’s Great Army Division of 364 at Naissus proves that such divisions of units existed before 364. I agree with you Hoffmann is wrong there, but only in the sense that he thought that the seniors and iuniores went back on the two Imperial brothers.
But the existence of a seniors unit in 356 does not prove Hoffmann’s big army division wrong. By no means. His evidence for such a division may not be absolute, but it is overwhelming, and anyone would be hard put to find another occasion where this could have taken place.
I would say that such a practise did already exist in the Roman army, and that Valens and Valentinian did not invent it on the spot. There is a lot we don’t know about late Roman army practise. However, we know that larger units are becoming smaller and smaller, ‘old style’ legions are being split up into cohort-size formations, and new style units may also have been divided like that, before 364.
Hence the inscription of 356 does not necessarily deny an army division of 364.

Also, the occurrence of seniores in the West and iuniores in the East may not be all due to such an event, but then it would be extremely coincidental to find these units where we find them in all the sources that Hoffmann used for his study.

I would not conclude that all of Hoffmann’s conclusion about the presence and movements of units prior to 364 are to be regarded as invalid. Most are based on sources.
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#2
I've discovered a very nice article on JSTOR on this very subject, by Roger Tomlin:

Seniores-Iuniores in the Late-Roman Field Army
Roger Tomlin
The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 93, No. 2 (Apr., 1972), pp. 253-278
doi:10.2307/293251

Courtesy of Claire Marshall, thanks Claire!
~ Paul Elliott

The Last Legionary
This book details the lives of Late Roman legionaries garrisoned in Britain in 400AD. It covers everything from battle to rations, camp duties to clothing.
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#3
Robert,

I dont deny the army partition of 364 - but the interpretation that Hoffmann draws from that. He goes: in 364 50 elite units of the army were divided between Valentinian and Valens, splitting evry unit in two, naming them seniores and iuniores and giving the first the older, the second the younger brother. Before no seniores existed. All seniores were first in the west.
Then he makes his assumptions out of that: If the Notitia or any other source shows a seniores in the east, then it was transferrred there after 364.
And this last part - is invalid. If its proven that there were seniores before 364 - and even in the east - then how could you claim about - lets say the Lancearii seniores in the Notitia beein in the east, that they must have originated in the west and could not be formed before 364? Hoffmann creates whole army movements out of that.

So - Hoffmann IS a good book, a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in LRE army organisation. BUT - nearly every single interpretation of Hoffmanns own, when and where a seniores/iuniores unit was created/transfered, has to be seen in the light of his assumptions.
What we need - really need - is an exhaustive list of ALL late Roman unit sources.

seniores - iuniores before 364:
Ioviani/Equites Cornuti seniores: 356 at Nakoleia
Schola seniores: inscription of Philippi: Viator filius Liciniani protectoris de scola seniore peditum - dated by Drew-Bear (p. 270) as probably earlier than 364.
Herculiani seniores: Passio sanctorum Bonosi et Maximiliani, under Julian
Lancearii seniores: epitaph at Arles, according to O. Seeck not long after the middle of the 4th century.
Jens Wucherpfennig
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#4
Quote:I dont deny the army partition of 364 - but the interpretation that Hoffmann draws from that. He goes: in 364 50 elite units of the army were divided between Valentinian and Valens, splitting evry unit in two, naming them seniores and iuniores and giving the first the older, the second the younger brother. Before no seniores existed. All seniores were first in the west.

We both agree about that, then. I think the Hoffmann never knew about the pre-364 evidence, and I agree that his conclusion about seniores-iuniores being invented on the spot is not correct, the system may have been in operation earlier.

Quote:Then he makes his assumptions out of that: If the Notitia or any other source shows a seniores in the east, then it was transferrred there after 364.
And this last part - is invalid. If its proven that there were seniores before 364 - and even in the east - then how could you claim about - lets say the Lancearii seniores in the Notitia beein in the east, that they must have originated in the west and could not be formed before 364? Hoffmann creates whole army movements out of that.
Yes, that is now much more difficult to prove. But I still think that the seiores-West and iuniores-East was part of the outcome of that division of 364. That's based on those many lists, that otherwise would be sheer coincidence - I still think Hoffmann has a valid point there. Nevertheless, seniores-iuniores had nothing to do with valens and Valentinian, but may go back on a totally different system. It has been suggested that iuniores were a nucleus of one unit, replenished wityh new recruits. Or maybe it had to do something with East and West after all, I just don't know.

Mind you, even after we know that units had been divided, many sources still fail to mention seniores or iuniores, so much guesswork remains.

Quote:So - Hoffmann IS a good book, a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in LRE army organisation. BUT - nearly every single interpretation of Hoffmanns own, when and where a seniores/iuniores unit was created/transfered, has to be seen in the light of his assumptions.
What we need - really need - is an exhaustive list of ALL late Roman unit sources.
AGREED!! Big Grin

Quote:Ioviani/Equites Cornuti seniores: 356 at Nakoleia
No problem there. But of course, we have no idea if this unit had been created in the West or in the East, or where it moved. Maybe it was one of Magnentius' units?

Quote:Schola seniores: inscription of Philippi: Viator filius Liciniani protectoris de scola seniore peditum - dated by Drew-Bear (p. 270) as probably earlier than 364.
I can't tell - do you have a copy of that article?

Quote:Herculiani seniores: Passio sanctorum Bonosi et Maximiliani, under Julian
I believe that this text was classified as a later one, with the ref. to 'seniores' being anachronistic?

Quote:Lancearii seniores: epitaph at Arles, according to O. Seeck not long after the middle of the 4th century.
Which article?
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#5
Maybe this...

CIL 12, 00673 (p 817) = ILCV 00295a-b = D 02788

Provinz: Gallia Narbonensis Ort: Arles / Arelate


Bene pausanti in pace Fl(avio) Memorio v(iro) p(erfectissimo) qui milit(avit) // Int(er) Iovianos annos XXVIII pro(tector) dom(esticus) an(nos) VI prae(positus) lanciari(i)s sen[ioribus 3]res an(nos) III comes rip(a)e an(num) I com(es) Mauret(aniae) Ting(itanae) an(nos) IIII / vix(it) an(nos) LXXV Praesidia coniunx marito dulcissimo

Valete,
TITVS/Daniele Sabatini

... Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet ac toto surget Gens Aurea mundo,
casta faue Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo ...


Vergilius, Bucolicae, ecloga IV, 4-10
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#6
Quote:A Fourth-Century Latin Soldier's Epitaph at Nakolea, Thomas Drew-Bear, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 81, 1977

While waiting for the whole article:

[url:3cy6ix2h]http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0073-0688%281977%2981%3C257%3AAFLSEA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-X&size=LARGE[/url]
TITVS/Daniele Sabatini

... Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet ac toto surget Gens Aurea mundo,
casta faue Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo ...


Vergilius, Bucolicae, ecloga IV, 4-10
[Image: PRIMANI_ban2.gif]
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#7
Quote:While waiting for the whole article

How about This one?
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-9475(197204 )93%3A2%3C253%3ASITLFA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C

Or how about this one
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0075-4358(1923 )13%3C1%3ATARODA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-F

Or, how about this one
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-9475(1955 )76%3A2%3C138%3AOSCOTN%3E2.0.CO%3B2-P
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Robert Vermaat
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#8
Not working links... Sad

Vale,
TITVS/Daniele Sabatini

... Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet ac toto surget Gens Aurea mundo,
casta faue Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo ...


Vergilius, Bucolicae, ecloga IV, 4-10
[Image: PRIMANI_ban2.gif]
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#9
As far as I can see, those tombstone inscriptions don't carry any date by themselves... I wonder how can they be dated so precisely as to furnish significant evidence for the subject discussed here... :?

Aitor
It\'s all an accident, an accident of hands. Mine, others, all without mind, from one extreme to another, but neither works nor will ever.

Rolf Steiner
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#10
Quote:Not working links... Sad
No, they work fine in a Word document, but in this forum you gotta copy-paste them into the browser, I'm afraid. :wink:
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#11
That Hoffmann has to be read carefully is not my theory but of some of the best experts of Late Roman army organisation.
For example Scharf: Seniores-iuniores und die Heeresteilung von 364, ZPE 89, 1991 p.267.
last mentioned in: Ralf Scharf in Der Dux Moguntiacensis und die Notitia Dignitatum, Berlin 2005, esp. p.221-225
p.223: "Wenn weder das Datum der Teilung noch die anschließende geographische Verteilung der seniores-iuniores mit der durch die Inschrift belegten Realtität übereinstimmen, sind auch Hoffmans Ergänzungen der Namensattribute in der Notitia,..., als hinfällig zu betrachten. Auch alle Thesen über Truppenverlegungen seit 364 können ohne genauere Prüfung nicht mehr aufrecht erhalten werden."

For the origins of seniores-iuniores Scharf is careful: possible could be a partition between Constans and Constantius II. 340 - the seniores beeing originally in the east, iuniores with the younger Constans in the west. Or another possibility, seniores being unrelated to the emperors but just refering to the cader of the divided unit: then that could be connected with Constantius II. efforts to compensate for the losses of Mursa after 351. "Wäre dies der Fall, so würde eine geographische Verteilung von seniores und iuniores auf verschiedene Reichsteile in jeder Variante obsolet." (then any geographical divison of seniores-iuniores would be obsolet

Michael Kulikowski: The Notitia Dignitatum as a Historical Source, in: Historia 49, 2000. p. 371 note 55:
"There are equally grave consequences for Hoffmann's chapters six and seven, on the comitatus through the reign of Julian. From here many units are excluded from consideration on the basis of the seniores-iuniores nomenclature."
already in Kulikowski: The End of Roman Spain, Toronto 1997, p.202:
"The argument assumes that units with the by-name
seniores must be westem in origin. those with the by-name iuniores
eastern. One may thus trace troop movements in the distribution of
unfts with this nomenclature. This assumption is demonstrably
incorrect. The by-names seniores and iuniores do not in fact originate
with a division of the comitatus by Valentinian and Valens in 364. An
archaeology of the troop movements enshrined in the NotVia cannot be conducted on the basis of this assumption. Only units attested
independenfly in outside sources can be claimed with certainty as
belonging at any point to eastern or western armies. If the sentores-
Eunfores criterion is discarded, uni- idenmed as west-east transfers of
388 may in fact have bdonged to the eastern army for many decades
before."
and note 51: "The assumed connection between seniores unîts and the western army cannot stand. The result undermines nearly the whole of Hofmann's work. Almost every conclusion in his chapters eight, nine, and ten,
no matter what immediate logic it ts based on, ultimately turns upon the 364 army division. Nearly every conclusion is thus suspect, though many are not implausible."
-




Quote:
Natuspardo:qlj6613h Wrote:Herculiani seniores: Passio sanctorum Bonosi et Maximiliani, under Julian
I believe that this text was classified as a later one, with the ref. to 'seniores' being anachronistic?

For Herculiani seniores under Julian. see D. Woods. ‘Ammianus Marcellinus and the Deaths of Bonosus and Maximilianus’
Hagiographica 2 (1995), 25-55.

Quote:
Natuspardo:qlj6613h Wrote:Lancearii seniores: epitaph at Arles, according to O. Seeck not long after the middle of the 4th century.
Which article?

Drew-Bear, Nakolea p.274
Jens Wucherpfennig
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#12
I think that most of these commentators throw away the child with the bathwater. Even when we agree that Hoffmann is wrong about the first time the divisions into seniores and iuniores occur, I still think that Hoffmann’s conclusion was not based on an all-encompassing idea about geography, but on the army lists that are later in date than the division of 364 (which no-one seems to doubt).
It was, after all the occurrence of iuniores units in the east and seniores units in the West that led Hoffmann to the (in my mind right) conclusion that the Army division led to seniores units being sent to the West and iuniores to the East.
If we look at those lists, we would be coming into the realm of extreme coincidence, when we would assume (contra Hoffmann) that the division of iuniores and seniores units in those lists indeed rests on nothing but chance. But how can we assume that? There are far too many seniores units in the West and far too many iuniores units in the East to say that Hoffmann was totally wrong and all his conclusions and therefore his work are useless.

Now, of course that NEED not mean that earlier seniores units had also been western units, or that subsequently created seniores and iuniores units NEED be placed in the West and East. I do not assume that this was a system before 364, or even after 364, only that during the division of 364, the units divided were divided along the lines of one group (seniores) going West and the other group (iuniores) going east. Why each group received their name I can't tell. maybe it was a division between cadres, or veterans and recruits, I don't know. I think Hoffmann is wrong his his solution based on the two Imperial brothers.
But I think this division was the biggest ever, and not at random.

BUT, we also need to keep in mind that even that may be among the many possibilities that underlie this enigmatic Late Roman army system!

Scharf is rightly cautious, using the word ‘wenn’ (if).
But then he does the same as Hoffmann, choosing a moment of division (Constans-Constantius, 340), but he places the iuniores in the West and the seniores in the East! So how is that any different from Hoffmann? Scharf only chooses a different argument, but for a similar occasion and subsequent geographical division!
His second, non-geographical solution (after Mursa 351) sounds plausible, but we would still have to explain that odd occurrence of by far the most seniores in the West and iuniores in the East.

Kulikowski is needlessly sharp in his criticism.
He states: “[i]The by-names seniores and iuniores do not in fact originate with a division of the comitatus by Valentinian and Valens in 364â€
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#13
I must add to the above statement, Hoffmann's arguments when capmpared to Scharf and Kulikowski.

Nicasie has written on the matter, which I'm reading now, and Drew-Bear also comes into play.

Iuniores, orginally, seeems to have been regarded as 'recruits'. Speidel found a 3rd c. inscription referring Mauri iuniores, but Nicasie does not regard that as anything other than rwewferring to recruits.

That there was a big army division in 364 is certain. We can now argue how the army was divided: splitting each unit in two (as Hoffmann thinks) or dividing all the units (as Nicasie thinks)?

While I'm not convinced by Hoffmann, I'm so far less convinced by other theories. If all units had already been divided into seniores-iuniores in the 350s, we can wonder why they still seem to end up in eastern or western armies, but not both versions in both armies more than they did.
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#14
Robert,

I agree with you and Hoffmann that in 364 there was an army partition. But how it was parted still stands open to question. Afterwards in the Notitia, some 30-50 years later, we indeed find most seniores in the west, iuniores in the east. That COULD be coincidence, but I agree its wise to search for an explanation.
  • 1. problem:
    what does iuniores-seniores mean? you already mentioned that question is still unsolved.
    2. problem:
    seniores-iuniores appear before 364, outside of the notitia we have very few datable unit-designations even after that date - so why suppose that all (Hoffmann) or most of seniores-iuniores should be created in that date? Why couldn't it be the usual practice to designate newly created units out of older cadres, happening all the time or in moments of army rebuilding?
    3. It could be possible that in 364 ALREADY EXISTING seniores-iuniores (and maybe newly created) were parted in the way that former went with Valentinian, last with Valens.
    4. As far as I know (please proof me wrong), I haven't found a thorough explanation for the sheer unbelievable unit-augmentation during 4/5th century. Hoffmann, Scharf and Speidel speak of one wave of unit creation after the other. But did that mean the army growing in numbers? or the units getting smaller and smaller. Or were there far more units disbanded/destroyed than we know? Jones makes a good point for the last.


To suppose some other moments, where seniores-iuniores could be created:
in 377 Gratian wanted to help his uncle Valens against the Goths. First he sent Frigeridus with Pannonian and Transalpine troops, who was
Quote:"followed by Richomer, commander of the household troops, who ..., moved from Gaul and hurried towards Thrace. The regiments that he brought with him were regiments only in name; most of their number had deserted at the instance, it was alleged, of Merobaudes"
(Ammianus 31.7)

What should we make out of this? There WERE units sent in the east, if "only in name". What do you think happened with them? Would they return to their parent units? But the next years we only hear of new reinforcements for the east. Would they be integrated into other eastern units? Or - maybe could they be filled up and become iuniores?

Other dates for seniores-iuniores creation could be the troops of the third emperor, the "Mittelreich". From 367 (elevation of Gratian) to 388 (death of Maximus) there were always 3 emperors. When Valentinian died 375 his second son Valentinian II. was elevated.
J. Barlow and P. Brennan in: Tribuni scholarum palatinum 353-64: Ammianus Marcellinus and the Notitia Dignitatum (Classical Quarterly 51.1, 2001) think at least for the scholae that some partition could be possible for the Mittelreich (p.240. They also see Hoffmanns thesis critical, p.239).


To draw a conclusion:
Hoffmann did the greatest effort to bring order in the confused late roman army organization and unit history. But he unfortunately did it on some wrong assumptions (he didn't know the definite existence of seniores before 364).
For any army composition therefore I would first start with only what less the sources tell, THEN still look what Hoffmann wrote, and then try to check that with Scharf, Speidel et. al.

But I have to repeat my big wish: We need a listing of all sources for late roman units. But I guess only that would need another Hoffmann-style project, for that man worked dozens of years for his book :!:

For some units (eg. Batavi-Heruli-Regii, Cornuti, Petulantes) I started to do so on my own, and I came to some interesting and some quite different assumptions about unit-origin or -history than otherwise proposed.
Jens Wucherpfennig
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#15
Hi Jens,
I've used the past week to read a bit about this problem, and it seems we a gree on much. I must also say that while (like you) I reject several of Hoffmann's solutions, I'm also not much impressed by the solutions of the others.

Quote:I agree with you and Hoffmann that in 364 there was an army partition. But how it was parted still stands open to question.
Absolutely. Other suggestions are the aftermath of battle of Mursa (351) or other occasions, but the problem there is that no sources mention any such division, apart from the one in 364. So it seems we're on safe ground there. The next question would be of course: was the army split into iuniores and seniores, or just divided. Nicasie thinks the latter applied, but he can't come up with a moment when the splitup actuall took place before that time. But more of that below.

Quote:1. problem:
what does iuniores-seniores mean? you already mentioned that question is still unsolved.
I agree. Nicasie mentions several references to inioures though, that go back to Diocletian and before, where iuniores have the meaning of 'recruits'. The only occasion where emperors are metioned as 'Senior/Iunior' (Hoffmann's solution) are two shortlived 3rd-c. emperors, which does not impress NIcasie, am me neither.

So what could we infer? How about a proposal where a late Roman army unit had some internal division into a seniores and iuniores part? The iuniores could be the newer soldiers, while the seniores could be more like the veterans - maybe this could be something having to do with status and/or pay? If such a unit was split up into two half-units or divided and built up to double strenght (I can't be sure which was the occasion), such an internal division could be the natural division that caused to two new independent units to be named thus.
Just a hypothesis.

Quote:2. problem:
seniores-iuniores appear before 364, outside of the notitia we have very few datable unit-designations even after that date - so why suppose that all (Hoffmann) or most of seniores-iuniores should be created in that date? Why couldn't it be the usual practice to designate newly created units out of older cadres, happening all the time or in moments of army rebuilding?
Yes, that's a problem that we will just not get hold of. That such a division occured before 364 is clear. However, we can't tell how many (just a few or many) units had actually been divided before 364. As I said above, Nicasie sees the divion happening a lot sooner (Constantine), others look for moments like Mursa. the trouble is, we have no evidence of one big division before 364. So, such divisions happened (that much is clea), but without much references, I'm inclined to think that while this happened, it had not happened on a large scale. After all, larger old-style legions also occurred, as did cohorts and alae - the Roman Army never reorganised all units into a new model army, and new developments seem to have taken place occasionally, when circumstances called for the, Legions were haved, sometimes divided into double-cohort forces, somtimes even split up in as many cohorts as they still had.

Before and after 364, I don't think that iuniores needed to be in the East and seniores needed to be in the West. Hoffmann is wrong there, lacking the earlier references as he obviously did.
That we have such a regional division and a army division, makes me think that for this one, very big, occasion, the units were indeed divided along such lines, iuniores being either split up seniores or created out of cadres (that I can't be sure of).
I therefore think that most seniores/iuniores were created in 364, because that west-east division seems also to take place just then.

Quote: 3. It could be possible that in 364 ALREADY EXISTING seniores-iuniores (and maybe newly created) were parted in the way that former went with Valentinian, last with Valens.
Yes, that was Nicasie's solution. He attributed the seniores/iuniores split to Constantine, but without any proof. if Constantine was indeed responcible for the new army, i think it's a bit much to also attribute the division of those units to Constantine.
Mursa, then? The problem is and will be - no sources mention such an army division before 364, it's out best bet.
But were just all the units divided between valens and Valentinian? Very much possible. But then, I'd say, why don't we find many many more references to iuniores and seniores before 364?

Quote: 4. As far as I know (please proof me wrong), I haven't found a thorough explanation for the sheer unbelievable unit-augmentation during 4/5th century. Hoffmann, Scharf and Speidel speak of one wave of unit creation after the other. But did that mean the army growing in numbers? or the units getting smaller and smaller. Or were there far more units disbanded/destroyed than we know? Jones makes a good point for the last.
Nicasie thinks that many units were not newly created, just re-named after later emperors. i find that a bit speculative. Did the army grow? probably. But the units also became smaller, vexillations never returned, and the losses (especially in the East) may have been such that new units had to be created to keep the army up to strength.

Julian created many new units, did he not? Yet these were also divided into seniores/iuniores. Were they from the start? Or just in 364?


Quote:To suppose some other moments, where seniores-iuniores could be created: in 377 Gratian wanted to help his uncle Valens against the Goths. What should we make out of this? There WERE units sent in the east, if "only in name". What do you think happened with them? Would they return to their parent units? But the next years we only hear of new reinforcements for the east. Would they be integrated into other eastern units? Or - maybe could they be filled up and become iuniores?

I think they never returned, the flow of troops must have ben mostly west to east, i think. Constantius II also kept asking for troops from Julian. But i think that such vexillations may well have become the iniores, as they were formed like a new unit around a cadre of the old unit.

Quote:Other dates for seniores-iuniores creation could be the troops of the third emperor, the "Mittelreich". From 367 (elevation of Gratian) to 388 (death of Maximus) there were always 3 emperors. When Valentinian died 375 his second son Valentinian II. was elevated.
I agree. It is not clear how many units were divided before 364 or after 364, but we can be sure that this practise existed earlier and continued after.

Quote: To draw a conclusion:
Hoffmann did the greatest effort to bring order in the confused late roman army organization and unit history. But he unfortunately did it on some wrong assumptions (he didn't know the definite existence of seniores before 364).
For any army composition therefore I would first start with only what less the sources tell, THEN still look what Hoffmann wrote, and then try to check that with Scharf, Speidel et. al.

I agree! But how can we get such a list from the sources that we have?

Please tell us more on what you already have?
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