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THE FLAGS OF THE CAVALRY AND FOOT SOLDIERS

Translated by Kirsty Bennett, Matt Canty and haiducul


The Dacians havd two military flags (standards), one each for the cavalry and the foot soldiers. The Dacian cavalry standard bore the image of a dragon-like creature with the hollow head of an open mouthed wolf mounted on top of a spear and a body like that of a snake. Arrian described the body as a long sleeve, 'made by sewing pieces of dyed material together'. This sleeve or tube, hung limp when the rider was at rest, but on the move it flew like a serpent and whistled in the wind. He also says that the flags were not only beautiful but also frightening. There were standards of different color that allowed each cavalry unit to identify themselves whilst in battle.
The Greek and Roman writers do not mention anything about the true origin of these types of standards, but there are signs of these being used by the inhabitants from the north of the Istru (old name of the Danube) in the ancient history of Dacia.
The old Greek legends tell us of Typhon, a king of the giants from the north of Thracia, having the body of a man but from his shoulders rose the heads of 100 terrifying dragons.
The Greek legends, as we know, are full of allegoric figures. The 100 heads of dragons that were rising from Typhon’s shoulders are from the historical point of view 100 foot soldiers troops of the king of the giants. The standards of the foot soldiers, as we see them on the Trajan Column, look similar to the flags of Christian Orthodox Church from today. These flags were made from a silk square flag and hung from a flagpole, suspended on a spear.
On one of these flags on the Trajan Column we can see an emblem in the shape of an R on its side. We cannot know with certainty if the emblem is a letter or something else, but we can say that the old Greeks were using animal figures or letters on their flags. The Lacedemoniens (Spartans) were adopting the letter A or Λ and the Meseniens the letter M.