A torch, in Latin fax, was customarily carried by Romans traveling after dark, both to light their way (Petronius, Satiricon 79) and, as here, for safety from attack. The torch was shaped in the form of a cone, with twigs bound together tightly on the outer side and the interior filled with materials soaked in pitch or oil to burn intensely.

Fax (Column of Antoninus)

Umbricius' multum flammarum no doubt refers to torches protectively carried by those accompanying the wealthy nobleman home in the middle of the night. Torches were associated with certain goddesses, Bacchic worshippers, and wedding processions (Catullus refers to the wedding torch as a conubia flamma in Carmina 62.27).

goddess w torches
Proserpina/Vesta (?) carrying torches (photo courtesy of VRoma)