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Imaginifer (Latin: Imaginifer) was a type of standard-bearer in the Roman army who carried the likeness of the emperor into battle. This served as a constant reminder of the soldiers' loyalty to the emperor. This variety of standard-bearer emerged in the legions after the cult of the emperor was established during the reign of Octavian Augustus. The "imago" was a three-dimensional portrait made of colored metal, which was carried alongside the aquila exclusively in the first cohort.

Tombstone of Imagonifer Cenalius of the auxiliary VII Rhaetian Cohort (Lat. Cohors VII Raetorum). Archaeological Museum, Mainz, Germany. Mid-1st century AD
Bust of an imago found in Avenshae. AD 161-180

The distinctive feature of the imaginifer was the bear or wolf skin worn over the helmet, with the paws tied around the neck. Their armament consisted of a gladius (sword) and pugio (dagger). As protective equipment, imaginifers used either lorica hamata (chainmail) or lorica squamata (scale armor), as well as a small round shield called a parma, which they carried on a strap at their side.

Related topics

Standard-Bearer, Signifer, Vexillary, Aquilifer