The Praetorians

The people, conflicts, and daily life of the Roman army.

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The Praetorians

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Sun Mar 16, 2003 1:19 pm

Avete Romani,

whenever I think of the Praetorians, I think of them as the emperors "bodyguards". I also know that they sometimes did the dirty work for the emperors (assassinating people, etc..).

But what I would like to know is what their actual function was and where they came from (with wich I mean their origin). Did they for instance sometimes fight in any of the major battles or did they act as some kind of Military Police?

Does anybody know?

Valete,

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Mar 17, 2003 6:43 am

Salve Tiberi

During the Republic every military camp had what was called the praetorium at its center. This is where the general had his tent, the camp's altar, the augurale where the sacred chickens were kept and consulted, and also the camp's tribunal area. The general would also have his personal guard, the praetoriani of one cohort. They acted as his personal bodyguard, and his army's reserve. It would also be where the sons of important Romans might be placed for their first military assignment.

Augustus, as the leading military commander, first established the imperial Praetorian Guard, consisting originally of nine cohorts. Augustus' Praetorian Guard was recruited exclusively from Italy. The cohorts were placed at different locations around Italy to which Augustus would likely visit. Tiberius changed this arrangement a little, concentrating three cohorts in a camp just outside Rome, the others still dispersed elsewhere in Italy.

Under Severus recruitment to the Praetorian Guard came from other legions of the army. It was no longer exclusively Italian. Transfer to the Praetorians then became a kind of promotion. They were paid more than regular legionaries and the conditions of their served were better. Constantine disbanded the Praetorians.

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