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The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome's Elite Special Forces

The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome's Elite Special Forces

Hardback

By (author) Sandra Bingham

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  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 240mm x 26mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 30 November 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1845118847
  • ISBN 13: 9781845118846
  • Sales rank: 610,346

Product description

Conceived as a personal army for the emperor, the elite Praetorian Guard soon took over a wide range of powers in Rome, and thus from the very beginning made a much greater impact on the city's life than just as an imperial bodyguard. The Praetorians were in fact inseparable from the whole machinery of state, in some cases even making or breaking individual emperors. Sandra Bingham here offers a timely history of the Guard from its foundation by Augustus in 27 BCE to its disbandment by Constantine in CE 312. Topics covered include arms and insignia; the size, recruitment and command structure of the Guard; duration of service; the duties of individual soldiers and officers; and their families, daily lives and religion.

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Author information

Sandra Bingham is a Teaching Fellow in Classics at the University of Edinburgh. Her publications include several articles on the reigns of Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla, and a co-authored book on the rediscovery of Carthage for the Duckworth Archaeological Histories series.

Review quote

This book reveals the ever fertile mind of Bill Doyle in all its many facets, from the carefully researched, intricate minutiae of venality and finance in Ancien Regime France, to the grand sweep of the fall of monarchies and the roots of revolution across the western world in the Age of Revolutions. There is a fresh insight and a refreshing dash of much needed iconoclasm, on every page. Doyle is a scholar who continues to provoke, instruct and inspire, in prose as sparkling and clear as a vintage Champagne. -Michael Broers, Professor of Western European History, University of Oxford Sandra Bingham explores the idea that the Praetorians were much more than the emperor's bodyguard. They had a role in maintaining state security, policing large gatherings, fire-fighting, arresting and sometimes executing suspects, and occasionally even spying for the emperor. And by the second century AD they had developed a battlefield role since part of the guard usually accompanied the emperor on campaign. As the Praetorians were stationed in Rome close to the emperor and under the control of his right-hand man, the Praetorian prefect, they were inevitably drawn into the political intrigue and power struggles of the imperial court. Bingham's fast-paced though carefully constructed narrative, backed up by sound analysis of crucial issues, expertly conveys the reader though this blood-thirsty and exciting tale, which highlights important issues in the wider history of the Roman world. Detailed notes make the book a valuable tool for students and scholars, while general readers will welcome its crisp and clear style and eye for intriguing details of life in the guard. -Brian Campbell, Professor of Roman History, Queen's University, Belfast 'Sandra Bingham's book is a much-needed and valuable history of the Praetorian Guard from its origins to its disbandment by the emperor Constantine the Great in AD 312. It covers the history, organization, and duties of the Guard, with full notes and bibliography. There is no full-length treatment of the Praetorian Guard in English, so this book will be greatly appreciated by classical historians, Roman military historians, and students of Roman history. Clear and concise in style, supported by ancient and current secondary sources, Bingham's study is balanced in its treatment of an often partisan subject.' -Sara Elise Phang, author of Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and Early Principate 'Sandra Bingham's The Praetorian Guard considers how the Roman elite military unit shaped Roman history, protecting, counseling, removing and replacing various emperors. Bingham neatly explains the history of the Guard, detailing the forerunners of the unit in republican Rome, such as the private cohorts of Sulla, Marius, Catiline, and even Cicero himself. She considers the status of the Guard in Roman society, where and how it was physically stationed in the city, as well as the unit's internal organization, offering also salient comments about the Guard as a fighting unit. Bingham's copious notes do not slow down the narrative but allow the studious reader to pursue sundry points in fuller detail. All in all, a valuable contribution to Roman history generally and specifically to Roman imperial rule, the household of the emperor, and the person of the emperor himself.' - R Alden Smith, Professor of Classics, Baylor University

Table of contents

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