Praetorian Guard

Praetorian Guard
Rom. Hist.
the bodyguard of a military commander, esp. the imperial guard stationed in Rome.

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(Latin, cohors praetoria) Household troops of the Roman emperors.

In the 2nd century BC they were bodyguards for Roman generals, their name taken from the general's tent (praetorium). During the civil wars military leaders had personal bodyguards, but in 27 BC Augustus created a permanent corps to guard the emperor and stationed its members around Rome. In AD 23, with Sejanus as commander, they gained political influence; from then on, they usually had an important voice in the appointment of emperors. They were responsible for the accession of Claudius (41), the disorders of 68–69, the lynching of Domitian's murderers (97), and the murder of Elagabalus (222). Constantine I disbanded the Praetorian Guard in 312.

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▪ Roman military
Latin  Cohors Praetoria,  

      household troops of the Roman emperors. The cohors praetoria existed by the 2nd century BC, acting as bodyguards for Roman generals. In 27 BC the emperor Augustus created a permanent corps of nine cohorts, stationing them around Rome; in 2 BC he appointed two equestrian prefects to command them, but in AD 23 Tiberius' powerful prefect Sejanus (Sejanus, Lucius Aelius) became their sole commander. He concentrated them in fortified barracks outside the walls of Rome, gaining significant political influence for them.

      Subsequently, they generally participated in appointing emperors and were responsible for the accession of Claudius (41); the disorders of 68–69; the lynching of Domitian's murderers (97); and the murders of Pertinax (193), Elagabalus (222), and Balbinus and Maximus (238). Septimius Severus reorganized the guard in 193, recruiting its members from the legions. Constantine I disbanded them in 312.

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