AERA roman legion main page Roman legionary signifer roman legionary marius mule #vexillarius The vexillarius

The Vexillarius carries the vexilum, a small flag mounted on a crossbar. To our knowledge only two original models of such flags were found. Other evidence comes from frescoes and the lapidary. The original models are painted in color that uses the same pictorial style as on the frescoes. For our reproduction, we used a white background based on Croom writings that states that vexilums used by the legions under the Republic were white, those for officer’s red, and finally those for the consuls purple.


The motif is based after a model from the second century before JC illustrated above. We know that the first four so-called Rome”urban” or “consular” legions used for emblem the she-wolf, the bull, the horse and the wild boar.


It seems logical that the first Legion uses the she-wolf as its symbol.


The vexilum is set directly on the tip of the spear, as shows of many Roman representations. Pierced spear points have been found by archeologists and appear to correspond perfectly to this function. The shaft is decorated with a spiral ornament as show on lapidary and other examples of Romans standards from the third century BC to the fifth century of our era.


The vexillum is first used as the emblem for a unit detached from its Legion called a vexillatio. It was a common practice during a campaign that a unit is detached to accomplish a specific task as for example to deal with securing part of a territory. Need could also arise to assemble several specialists units belonging to different legions for a specific combat mission were certain expertise was required.

There is also another kind of vexillum that is an honor flag awarded to some officers as described by some ancient texts.

The bearer of the vexillum can be compared to a signifer which and his immediately identifiable on duty to the beast skin covering his helmet. It is also important to point out that numerous representations show them bare headed, so it is possible that it was customary during official ceremonies for them to be this way.

Medals or phaleras worn here by the Vexillarius demonstrate its exceptional States of service. Phaleras whose originals are dated from the period represented here, are a victory supporting a trophy, and locusts representing the devastation that will occur to those opposing the legions. He is protected by a mail shirt, and is armed with a gladius and a pugio. He is wearing perones on his feet's, a kind of small boots still used at that time and which will gradually leave room for the caligae.

J-L Féraud Mai 2011 Roman legionary types Consular Vexillarius Legion Vexillarius