Political history

Transdanubians South of the Danube

Transdanubians South of the Danube

Kalin Stoev

Institute for Balkan Studies & Center of Thracolocy

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


University of Library Studies and Information Technologies, Bulgaria

Fuculty of Library Studies and Cultural Heritage

20 June 2020
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Abstract: The faderates in the Roman army, although codified as an institution in the fourth century, are not only a phenomenon of Late Antiquity, but have their roots in the Principate. The article presents epigraphic evidence, which shows that in the 2nd - 3rd  century, on the Roman territory settled a military population of barbaric origin, which was well integrated into Roman society. Here we mention identified examples that speak of early settlements of the Transdanubian population.

Key words: Barbarians, Federates, Epigraphy, Huns, Goths.

The aim of the article is to trace epigraphically attested examples of representatives of Transdanubian tribes who settled South of the Danube. In general, most of them came here as "foederati", ie. after settling and serving in the Roman army and are therefore evidence for the gradual "barbarization" of the Roman army, tendency that appeared in the 2nd – 3rd century and made its way to become a leading trend in the 4th c. So far there is no reliable epigraphic data to identify representatives of the "Geti" settled by Sextus Aelius Catus or the "Transdanubians" settled by Tib. Plautus Silvanus Aelianus. "Federates" or "dediticii" work in the Roman army relatively early (perhaps legio VII Claudia), as can be seen from a recently published monument from Ratiaria.[1] It belongs to a person whose name must be restored as Birrenius,[2] which is practically identical to the probable birth name of Maximinus of Thrace, Burrus (= Byrrus).[3] In the preserved image in the inscription, the man wears a «barbaric» sagum and probably indicates penetration of population by free Dacians south of the Danube. 

Below would be presented identified examples that speak of early settlements of the Transdanubian population:

Ulpius Balimber Balimberis. Ulpius Balimber has an interesting cognomen, which is certainly non-Roman[4] and, although he was centurio in the legion (in legio I Italica),[5] his name was formed on a non-Roman model, through an filiation with his father's name. His father-in-law, Cocceius Hortensius, also held the post of centurio, but in another Moesian legion: legio XI Claudia. Balimber's peregrinal name formula indicates that his father did not have a civil right or could not pass it on to his son. However, his rise to the post of centurio, as well as his association with the surname of another centurio, suggest that it was a union of two families whose heads (?) Balimber and Cocceius Hortensius were probably recruited at the end of the reign of Nerva and the beginning of Trajan's and arrived here in connection with the Dacian wars of Trajan.[6]  The inscription is extremely interesting because it shows not only the episodic recruitment of peregrines and their attainment of high positions, but also their integration into Roman romanized society. As regards to ethnicity, the closest parallel, though witnessed a considerably later time, is undoubtedly Hunnic.[7] The interpretation of the name as Oriental proposed by the publisher in IScM (IScM II 260.)could not withstand criticism – obviously recruitment of peregrines in the legions, moreover from the Orient, for and " Italian" in its origins legion and in the early Principate cannot be maintained.

Aurelius Crescentio has a rare cognomen, which, on the one hand, may be derived from the traditional military name Crescens, and on the other, has certain religious connotations.[8] Adding to this the fact that the wife of this praepositus bears the typical Christian name Vincentia,[9] we can say with great confidence that this is a Christianized family. In addition, the inscription contains the word for wife brutes (cf. German Braut), considered a Gothic loanword in late Latin. At the same time, mainly by iconography, the inscription dates back to the first half of the 4th c.[10] A. von Premerstein, on the other hand, finds the title praepositus to be conclusive evidence that it is the Late Antique boundary system as found in the Notitia Dignitatum, where praepositus limitis was responsible for a certain part of the Moesian frontier. The strongly Christian anthroponymy in the inscription, however, as well as the context of the military situation in Montana, where praepositus is usually found as the leader of the numerus – a unit strongly associated with the legionary command of the Limes, suggests that this is a legionary career, which eventually led Aurelius Crescentio to the post of praepositus, while it is clear that this post in the time of Diocletian was reserved for the leadership of legionary vexillationes, as undoubtedly existed in Montana.[11]

We can summarize that Aurelius Crescentio was the head of a numerus or other type of vexillation, probably in the time of Diocletian, but before the final establishment of the county field army in the time of the latter, as this would undoubtedly affect the designation of his career. One reasonable assumption would be that in Montana there was a garrison from the commandant's office on the Danube bank, and maybe a unit of numerus Dalmatorum was stationed, or even a whole prison of equites Dalmatae, which was not permanently located on the Danube – it seems in time of the Tetrarchy, as well as in the time before the independent rule of Constantine, these military units were commanded by praepositi (AE 1990, 822).[12]



[1] Stoev 2014, No . 13.

[2] In EDCS , respectively AE, the name does not comply with the autopsy of the inscription, as a result of which it was suggested that the name be misread as Terentius ( AE 2011 1103 a ).

[3] Stoev 2019 , 60 pp.

[4] Wolfram 1988, 485.

[5] ( Centurio ?) Princeps according to the inscription. However, Princeps is a position often used for the leaders of barbarian peoples, perhaps in this case as the leader of a "non-Roman" contingent of the legion.

[6] Due to the very short reign of Emperor Nerva, the name Kokcei in terms of Romanization should be associated with the settlement of veterans of the Auxilians here - one of the places where there is significant veteran colonization. This example largely explains the great influence that some Kokcei have in the rural regions of Dobrogea. They, together with the colonies of Ratiaria and Eskus, are the only places where the Kokceites occupy positions in the municipal and quasi-municipal government (see Stoev 2017). 

[7] S . Pritsak 1982, 433 for the name Balamur / Balamber with variations in different sources.

[8] Cf. Crescentio, Crescentius in Kajanto 1965, 234.

[9] Cf. Marrou, HI., Problemes generaux de l ' onomastique chretienne . In: L ' Onomastiqe latine, 434.

[10] Dimitrov 1942, no . 62.

[11] Parker 1933, 183. The assumption that it is a limestone praepostitus must also be strongly rejected , as Montana is a strategic settlement in the interior of the province, i. is part of a landscape in which other traces of the provincial army from the time of Constantine onwards have been found. 

[12] AE 1990, 822 of Esztergom, Hungary (Province of Pannonia), CIL III 5565 of Rosenheim, Bavaria (Province of Norwich). It should be noted, however, that in the second case it is a dux - praepositus , a title already belonging to the late antique rank system, and not an extraordinary prapositus , a commander of vexillation, which existed in the classical army of the Principle.


AE = Annee epigraphique

CIL  = Corpus inscriptionum latinarum

IScM  = Inscriptiones Scythiae Minoris

 Secondary sources :

Димитров, Д. П. (1942), Надгробните плочи от Северна България (София). / Dimiitrov, D.P. (1942), Nadgrobni plochi ot Severna Balgaria (Sofia)

Стоев, К. (2014), „Нови епиграфски паметници от Рациария и нейната територия“. – В: Иванов, Р. (ред.). Ratiaria Semper Floreat. Рациария и нейната територия. Изследвания. (София), 230–283/ Stoev, K. (2014), “Novi epigrafski pametnitsi ot Ratsiaria i neynata teritoria. Izsledvania (Sofia), 230–283.

Стоев, К. (2017), Да бъдеш римлянин в Мизия. Антропонимия и просопография на романизираното население в Горна и долна Мизия (София)/ Stoev, K. (2017), Da badesh rimlyanin v Mizia. Antropinimia i prosopografia na romaniziranoto naselenie v Gorna i dolna Mizia (Sofia).

Стоев, К. (2019), Providentia imperatoris. Биография на император Максимин Тракиеца. (Ямбол)/ Stoev, K.  (2019), Providentia imperatoris. Biografia na imperator Mauirmin Trakietsa (Yambol).

Kajanto, J. (1965), The Latin Cognomina (Helsinki–Helsingfors).

Marrou, H-I. (1977),Problemes generaux de l’onomastique chretienne.” In: Duval, N. LOnomastiqe latine  (ed.), 431–435.

Parker, H.M.D. (1933),The Legions of Diocletian and Constantine,” The Journal of Roman Studies 23, 175–189.

Pritsak, O. (1982), “The Hunnic language of the Attila clan.” – Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 6, No. 4, 428–476.

Wolfram, H. (1988), History of the Goths. (University of California Press ).


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financed by the National Science Fund, contract КП-06-Н30/6, 13.12.2018