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Draconarius - Reenactment at the Roman Festival 2013, Augusta Raurica

The draconarius was a type of signifer who bore a cavalry standard known as a draco in the Roman army.


Strictly speaking, the word draconarius denotes the bearer of the military standard on which a dragon was represented.[1] The term passed into Christian usage, and was applied to the bearer of the labarum in battle, and also to cross-bearers in church processions. [2]

Dragon ensign[edit]

From the conquered Dacians, the Romans in Trajan's time borrowed the dragon ensign which became the standard of the cohort as the eagle was that of the legion.[3] Of Dacian, Sarmatian in origin, the draco was later generally introduced in the fourth century as a Roman standard.[4]

It consisted of a bronze dragon head with a fabric body similar in shape to a tail behind it. Wind flowed through the gaping mouth and billowed out the cloth tail much like a modern windsock. It is thought that some form of whistle was mounted in the dragon's neck to make a terrifying noise when galloping.


See also[edit]


  • Den Boeft, J.; Den Hengst, D. (1987). Philological and historical commentary on Ammianus Marcellinus XX: Volume 4 edited by H. C. Teitler. John Benjamins Pub Co. ISBN 978-90-6980-012-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Smith, Sir William; Cheetham, Samuel (1875). Dictionary of Christian antiquities:. Little, Brown and Company.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tyrwhitt, Richard (2005). The Art Teaching of the Primitive Church with an Index of Subjects, Historical and Emblematic. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4179-7439-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Yust, Walter (1953). Encyclopædia Britannica: a new survey of universal knowledge:. Encyclopædia Britannica.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[edit]