CHARACTERS ½ Praetorian The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial Bodyguard

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CHARACTERS ½ Praetorian The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial Bodyguard Ð A riveting account of ancient Rome’s imperial bodyguard the select band of soldiers who wielded the power to make—or destroy—the emperors they servedFounded by Augustus around 27 BC the elite Praetorian Guard was tasked with the protA riveting account of ancient Rome’s imperial bodyguard the select band of soldiers who wielded the power to make or destroy the emperors they servedFounded by Augustus around 27 BC the elite Praetorian Guard was tasked with the protection of the emperor and his family As the centuries unfolded however Praetorian soldiers served not only as protectors and enforcers but also as pow. De la Bédoyère’s book on the Praetorians will likely become the definitive account of the rise and fall of the emperor’s bodyguards but whether it is the best book on the subject depends on what the reader is looking for when opening its pages If you are looking for a sober and scholarly history of the Praetorians with a thorough examination of the sources or lack of them and extensive discussions of such issues as whether the guards’ cohorts were uingenary composed of 500 men or milliary made up of 1000 troops and the evolution of the term cohors praetoria from the purely descriptive to the imperially prescriptive then you will be in historical heaven However if you would prefer a gossipy trip through the underbelly of Roman imperial politics and the temptations attendant upon being the bodyguard to the most powerful man in the world then Praetorian might disappoint A serious historian de la Bédoyère prefers to pass over or passingly refer to some of the salacious details of Roman history on the not unreasonable grounds that these were likely inventions to please an audience no less keen on scandal then than are audiences of reality TV today In Roman terms de la Bédoyère is Josephus than Suetonius While no one would disagree that history should inform it’s an open uestion as to how much it should entertain For instance when presented with an opportunity such as Hadrian’s praetorian prefect going by the name of uintus Marcius Turbo should the responsible historian abstain from the temptation to turn name into pun as being beneath his historical credibility or should he revel in it claiming that it will help the reader to remember while really indulging in wordplay for the sheer fun of it It will come as no surprise that de la Bédoyère reacts to the name with all the disdain of Lady Bracknell presented with a handbag This is not to say the book is dull but rather that it turns deliberately from the sensational to the plausible It is at its liveliest where our sources are most extensive but it becomes interestingly scholarly where the sources are at their thinnest as this allows de la Bédoyère to deploy his considerable knowledge of epigraphs – the inscriptions cut into tombs – and temple dedications to deepen and broaden our understanding of how the Praetorians were deployed in the later stages of the Empire From being bodyguards they had become imperial firefighters putting out rebellions and repelling invasions or even acting as sentries on a grain route in far off Numidia It was a long way from the intrigues of Sejanus Indeed it was the intrigues of the prefects in the disastrous third century that eventually led to the dissolution of the Praetorians when they picked the wrong side in the war between Constantine and Maxentius Having gained the purple Constantine was not about to let the Praetorians play the role of emperor maker again and the Castra Praetoria their camp in Rome was demolished The Praetorians were no longer players But among the many books on the Guard this one certainly is

Guy de la Bédoyère Å 1 CHARACTERS

Erful political players Fiercely loyal to some emperors they vied with others and ruthlessly toppled those who displeased them including Caligula Nero Pertinax and many Guy de la Bédoyère provides a compelling first full narrative history of the Praetorians whose dangerous ambitions ceased only when Constantine permanently disbanded them de la Bédoyère introduces Praetorians of. An exciting brilliantly researched and highly enjoyable work Guy de la Bedoyeres' 'Praetorian' is a must read for anyone interested in Roman military history or in the Gaurd itselfThe work which describes the formation evolution and decline of the Praetorian's from the days of the Republic to the later Roman Empire is an immense achievement utilising written sources epigraphic evidence numismatics and archaeology to demonstrate the development of the organisation showing it than just the Emperors personal bodyguard but also his Police force in Rome and on detail abroad as a strategic reserve in the events of war as a pool of administrators tax collectors builders firefighters to name but a few The scope of the Praetorian's usefulness to an Emperor in bringing about his desires objectives and goals were as great as there ability to topple replace or keep him in power The proximity of the guard to the Emperor did not always mean security for the latter as was demonstrated numerous times when the Praetorian's alone took it upon themselves to choose the destiny of the Empire by raising or removing one Emperor after another Though this book demonstrates the broad use of Praetorian Guard in the Imperial service in numerous ways over a period of 300 years it is not an all encompassing history of the Roman Empire rather it is a history of the Empire from the perspective of the guard and their role in it As such though some background is given to wider events surrounding Roman history between the foundation in 27BC and disbandment of the guard in 312AD the rapid pace of events dates and names may confuse those unfamiliar with the different periods of Roman history Otherwise this is a sound work and an excellent guide to anyone wishing to understand the military wing of Roman politics and the key role played by the Praetorian whether good or bad in shaping Roman History


Praetorian The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial BodyguardAll echelons from prefects and messengers to artillery experts and executioners He explores the delicate position of emperors for whom prestige and guile were the only defenses against bodyguards hungry for power Folding fascinating details into a broad assessment of the Praetorian era the author sheds new light on the wielding of power in the greatest of the ancient world’s empir. This book took me forever Not because it was poorly written but rather because every page sent me off to Wikipedia or other sources to read up of what was going on I think I’ve read wiki articles in the past month and a half than I have in years if you’re interested in Rome highly recommend the book One critiue I do wish the reference section at the end that laid out the various terms included of the terms; most common ones were explained but not all Still a minor annoyance in an otherwise excellent book