Three Famous Dracos: The Standard

Another dragon that isn’t really a dragon! “Draco,” a Roman military-standard, was carried by a cohort (a unit of about 600 men). The word draco in Latin can refer to a dragon or a snake. The draco standard looked a lot more like a snake than a dragon. The picture below comes from Trajan’s Column.

The draco was actually adopted by the Romans. Before, it had been used by other peoples whom the Romans conquered. The Romans had already had standards, the most well-known being the aquila (the eagle), which was carried by full legions. However, for reasons I don’t know, they chose to begin using the draco for cohorts after the Dacian Wars. These standards were used as a rally point for troops as they could be seen above the crowd of soldiers. They often also marked the location of the commander. A Greek writer by the name of Arrian also claimed that the Romans used it to help with proper formation.

For more information about the draco, visit Fectio’s website. Fectio is a historical re-enactment society in the UK, and I utilized their website to fill in some of the information here and to make sure I had my own facts right. It’s a pretty interesting website with a lot of information about the later years of the Roman empire, especially as it pertained to the UK.

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