Military Units of the Late Roman Cyrenaica in 4-5th AD: the Problems of Organization and Movements According to the Data of Synesius of Cyrene

Mekhamadiev Evgeniy A.

The epistolary heritage of Synesius of Cyrene, bishop of Ptolemais and the most distinguished representative of the so-called «Hellenic Christianity», may be considered as the main source on the military history of Late Roman Cyrenaica in the first third of the 5th c. AD. But the problem of these data consists in narrow chronological limits of Synesius’ correspondence and inaccuracies of his military terminology. The author of the present paper used the evidence of inscriptions and papyri to trace the history of the military units mentioned in Synesius’ letters. The comparative analysis led the author to the conclusion that up to 394 AD Cyrenaica had no regional (local) army of its own, and all military campaigns against the local nomadic tribes were carried out by the troops moved to Pentapolis only temporarily. It was not until 394 AD that a new military corps was set in Libya in the frameworks of preparing a probable campaign in North Africa, and this corps was composed from various cavalry and infantry detachments. These units had the status of frontier garrisons (limitanei) and had been dislocated in Egypt or Near Eastern provinces. The author maintains that even after this transfer to Cyrenaica they did not change their status and continued to be limitanei.

Keywords: Cyrenaica, Synesius of Cyrene, nomadic tribes, vexillations, legions, barbarians, frontier troops, field.
  1. Bénabou M. 1976: La résistance africaine à la romanisation. P.
  2. Berchem Denis van 1952: L’armée de Dioclétien et la réforme constantinienne. P.
  3. Brennan P. 2007: Zosimos II. 34. 1 and «The Constantinian Reform»: Using Johannes Lydos to Expose an Insidious Fabrication // The Late Roman Army in the Near east from Diocletian to the Arab Conquest / A.S. Lewin, P. Pellegrini (eds). Oxf., 211–218.
  4. Carrié J.-M. 1998: Séparation ou cumul? Pouvoir civil et autorité militaire dans les provinces égyptiennes de Gallien à la conquête arabe // Antiquité Tardive. 6, 105–121.
  5. Chastagnol A. 1965: Les Espagnols dans l’aristocratie gouvernemental à l’époque de Théodose // Les empereurs romains d’Espagne / A. Chastagnol, A. Piganiol (eds.). P., 269–292.
  6. Gaggero G. 1998: I riflessi africani delle usurpazioni di Magno Massimo ed Eugenio // L’Africa romana: atti del 12. Convegno di studio Olbia, 12–15 dicembre 1996. Vol. 3 / M. Khanoussi, P. Ruggeri, C. Vismara (eds.). Sassari, 1521–1532.
  7. Garzya A. (a) 2003: Synésios de Cyrène. T. 2. Correspondance. Lettres I–LXIII / Texte établi par A. Garzya, tr. et comm. par D. Roques. P.
  8. Garzya A. (b) 2003: Synésios de Cyrène. T. 3. Correspondance. Lettres LXIV–CLVI / Texte établi par A. Garzya, tr. et comm. par D. Roques. P.
  9. Goodchild R.G., Reynolds J.T. 1962: Some Military Inscriptions from Cyrenaica // Papers of the British School at Rome. 30, 37–46.
  10. Haile G. 1980: The martyrdom of St. Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria // AB. 98. 1–2, 85–92.
  11. Hoffmann D. 1969: Das spätrömische Bewegungsheer und die Notitia Dignitatum. Bd I. Düsseldorf.
  12. Hooff G. van. 1882: Christophori martyris Acta graeca antiqua // AB. I, 121–148.
  13. Janßen T. 2004: Stilicho: Das Weströmische Reich vom Tode des Theodosius bis zur Ermordung Stilichos (395–408). Marburg.
  14. Lacombrade Chr. 1946: Synésios et «l’énigme du loup» // Revue des Études anciennes. 48. 3–4, 260–266.
  15. Lacombrade Chr. 1951: Synésios de Cyrène: hellène et chrétien. P.
  16. Lambrechts P. 1937: Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van het Romeinsch keizerrijk // L’Antiquité Classique. 6. 1, 129–135.
  17. Long J. 1987: The Wolf and the Lion: Synesius’ Egyptian Sources // GRBS. 28. 1, 103–115.
  18. Maehler H. 1968: Ägyptische Urkunden aus den Staatlichen Museen Berlin. Griechische Urkunden. Bd XI. 2: Urkunden den römische Zeit / Bearb. von H. Maehler. B.
  19. Maier I. 1968: The Giessen, Parma and Piacenza codices of the Notitia Dignitatum with some related texts // Latomus. 27. 1, 96–141.
  20. Maier I. 1969: The Barberinus and Munich Codices of the Notitia Dignitatum omnium // Latomus. 28. 4, 960–1035.
  21. Martindale J.R. 1980: The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. A.D. 395–527. Cambr.
  22. Mitteis L. 1906: Griechische Urkunden der Papyrussammlung zu Leipzig. Bd I. / L. Mitteis (Hrsg.). Lpz.
  23. Neira Faleiro C. 2004: El «Parisinus latinus 9661» y la «Notitia Dignitatum»: nuevas aportaciones // Latomus. 63. 2, 425–449.
  24. Oost S.I. 1962: Count Gildo and Theodosius the Great // Classical Philology. 57. 1, 27–30.
  25. Palanque J.-R. 1965: L’empereur Maxime // Les empereurs romains d’Espagne / A. Chastagnol, A. Piganiol (eds.). P., 255–268.
  26. Ritterling E. 1925: Legio // RE. 12. Stuttgart, 1330–1829.
  27. Roques D. 1987: Synésios de Cyrène et la Cyrénaïque du Bas-Empire. P.
  28. Scharf R. 2001: Equites Dalmatae und cunei Dalmatarum in der Spätantike // ZPE. 135, 185–193.
  29. Seston W. 1955: Du «comitatus» de Dioclétien aux «comitatenses» de Constantin // Historia. 4. 2/3, 284–296.
  30. Shahîd I. 1989: Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century. Washington.
  31. Speidel M.P. 1975: The Rise of Ethnic Units in the Roman Imperial Army // ANRW. Bd II. 3, 202–231.
  32. Stein A. 1936: Tenagino Probus (Ein Beitrag zur Glaubwürdigkeit der Historia Augusta) // Klio. 29. 2/3, 237–242.
  33. Terzaghi N. 1944: Synesii Cyrenensis opuscula / N. Terzaghi (ed.). Vol. II. Roma.
  34. Vera D. 1975: I rapporti tra Magno Massimo, Teodosio e Valentiniano II nel 383–384 // Athenaeum. 53. 3–4, 267–302.
  35. Warmington B.H. 1954: The North African provinces from Diocletian to the Vandal conquest. Cambr.
  36. Wilcken U. 1908: Zu den Florentiner und den Leipziger Papyri // Archiv für Papyrusforschung und Verwandte Gebiete. IV, 423–486.
  37. Wipszycka E. 1966: Un papyrus d’Egypte et la guerre de Théodose le Grand contre la reaction païenne en Occident // Eos. 56. 2, 350–360.
  38. Woods D. St. 1994: Christopher, Bishop Peter of Attalia, and the Cohors Marmaritarum: A Fresh Examination. // Vigiliae Christianae. 48. 2, 170–186.
  39. Zuckerman C. 1998: Comtes et ducs en Égypte autour de l’an 400 et la date de la Notitia Dignitatum Orientis // Antiquité Tardive. 6, 137–147.