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Founded 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 powerful political players. Fiercely loyal to some emperors, they vied with others and ruthlessly toppled those who displeased them, including Caligula, Nero, Pertinax, and many more. 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 all 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 empires.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Charles on 08-07-17
When I read books about Rome I do not often learn anything. In this case I did. The author also does a great job of reminding me what might have happened, what we can't or at least don't know and why this matters.
I went ahead and gave it five stars despite mispronunciations. I've lost hope in this regard.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Jimmy Beans J on 03-01-18
Enthralling History of the Praetorian Institution
To begin with, as the author states in the forward this is not a look at the Praetorian Guard at an individual level though a fair amount of this does take place in the guise of personal diplomas and tombstones but rather a broader look at the institution as a whole. From it's inception at the begining of the imperial age of Rome to it's downfall which coincidentally was brought on in part from the guard's own meddling in imperial affairs; this book follows the institution's course as it runs parallel to and often redirects the life of the Caesars they were meant to protect. The book is well written and spiced with allusions to other works both ancient and contemporary and may be more properly enjoyed if the listener has some previous knowledge of Imperial Rome. Exceedingly well read. 5 out of 5.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful