Jul 14, 2014
A portion of a Roman Legion on detached duty as a temporary task force, carried a standard called a Vexillum. These detached units became know as vexillatio derived from the name of the standard they bore. Vexillum comes from the Latin word velum, meaning sail, curtain, or awning. The vexilla (plural of vexillum) were ‘little sails’ or flag-like standards. In contrast to modern day flags, the vexilla were attached to a horizontal crossbar suspended from a staff. The flag usually contained the parent legion’s abbreviated title and often a sign of the zodiac. For example LEG. II AUG. along with the symbol for Capricorn for Legio II Augusta. The vexillum was carried by a vexillarius or vexilifer. Closely guarded in combat, the vexillum was the main standard of some unit types – particularly the cavalry.