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The figure on top in the middle is believed to be Khosrau II.The figure to the right is Ahura Mazda, and to the left is the Persian Goddess Anahita.

With the growing aggressiveness of cavalry in warfare, protection of the rider and the horse became paramount.

This was especially true of peoples who treated cavalry as the basic arm of their military, such as the Ancient Persians, including the Medes and the successive Persian dynasties.

loricatos, quos cataphractos vocant ...", meaning "... There appears to be some confusion about the term in the late Roman period, as armored cavalry men of any sort that were traditionally referred to as Equites in the Republican period later became exclusively designated as "cataphracts".

Vegetius, writing in the fourth century, described armor of any sort as "cataphracts" – which at the time of writing would have been either lorica segmentata or lorica hamata.

There is, therefore, some doubt as to what exactly cataphracts were in late antiquity, and whether or not they were distinct from clibanarii.

Some historians theorise that cataphracts and clibanarii were one and the same type of cavalry, designated differently simply as a result of their divided geographical locations and local linguistic preferences.

The cataphract is not known, although various theories exist on his identity, but he is certainly of royal nobility. Kataphraktos (Κατάφρακτος, or various transliterations such as Cataphraktos, Cataphractos, or Katafraktos) is composed of the Greek root words, κατά, a preposition, and φρακτός, "covered, protected", which is interpreted along the lines of "fully armored" or "closed from all sides".

The term first appears substantively in Latin, in the writings of Sisennus: "...

Contemporary sources, however, sometimes imply that clibanarii were in fact a heavier type of cavalryman, or formed special-purpose units (such as the late Equites Sagittarii Clibanarii, a Roman equivalent of horse archers, first mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum).

Therefore, either side can be argued, but given the fact that "cataphract" was used for more than a millennium by various cultures, it stands to reason that different types of fully armored cavalry in the armies of different nations were assigned this name by Greek and Roman scholars not familiar with the native terms for such cavalry.

Traditionally, Roman cavalry was neither heavily armored nor decisive in effect; the Roman Equites corps were composed mainly of lightly armored horsemen bearing spears and swords to pursue stragglers and routed enemies.

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