Osprey - Warrior 170 - Roman Guardsman 62 BC-AD 324

ROSS COWAN ILLUSTRATED BY SEÁN Ó’BRÓGÁIN ROMAN GUARDSMAN 62 BC–AD 324 © Osprey Publishing • www.osprey - pdf za darmo

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ROMAN GUARDSMAN 62 BC–AD 324

ROSS COWAN

ILLUSTRATED BY SEÁN Ó’BRÓGÁIN © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com

WARRIOR 170

ROMAN GUARDSMAN 62 BC–AD 324 

ROSS COWAN

ILLUSTRATED BY SEÁN Ó’BRÓGÁIN Series editor Marcus Cowper

 

© Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com

CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION

4

CHRONOLOGY

5

ORIGINS AND EARLY HISTORY

7

RECRUITMENT AND TERMS OF SERVICE

16

TRAINING

24

ORGANIZATION

28

EQUIPMENT AND APPEARANCE

36

DAILY LIFE

44

BATTLE

53

AFTER THE BATTLE

60

FURTHER READING

61

GLOSSARY

62

INDEX

64

© Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com

ROMAN GUARDSMAN, 62 BC–AD 324 INTRODUCTION 

A much restored relief from the Arch of Claudius (AD 51), depicting praetorian guardsmen. The heads of the figures in the foreground are restored, and the helmets of all the soldiers are the result of artistic licence, but the decorated muscle cuirass of the officer (a tribune?), the curved oval scuta, and the heavy pila may be taken as accurate depictions of praetorian equipment. The legionary-type eagle standard harks back to the Late Republic when praetorians were selected from the best legionaries. (© A. Rézette)

For four centuries, from the civil wars of the Late Republic to Constantine’s bloody reunification of the Empire, elite units of guardsmen were at the heart of every Roman army. Whether as bodyguards or as shock troops in battle, the fighting skills of praetorians, speculatores, custodes and singulares determined the course of Roman history. The reputation of Roman guardsmen, especially those belonging to the Imperial praetorian cohorts, is bad. There was a suspicion that they were lazy and battle-shy, that their role as guards in the great metropolis of Rome, with all its distractions, enervated them as soldiers and made them greedy and susceptible to corruption and treachery. But if the praetorians were so bad, why did the emperors retain them for so long? It cannot be denied that the praetorians assassinated or abandoned a considerable number of emperors, but it will be shown that their motivations were complex and bound up with Roman notions of honour and codes of acceptable behaviour. We will explore the fascinating history of the praetorians, and their fellow guardsmen, from their first appearance in battle at Pistoria in 62 bc, to their heroic last stand by the Milvian Bridge in ad 312, and consider the afterlife of the old guards units up to ad 324. We will follow guardsmen through recruitment and training and examine their varied duties, including sentry

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duty in Rome, firefighting, and pursuing bandits through the Italian countryside. We will consider the tactical organization of the guards units, and see how they were used in battle. This book will dispel the popular image of the unworthy Roman guardsman, who will be revealed as ferociously loyal, highly trained and always ready for action.

CHRONOLOGY  62 BC 49 BC 44 BC

43 BC 36 BC 31 BC 30 BC 27 BC 13 BC AD 5 AD 9 14 16 AD 23 AD AD

31 37–47 AD 39 AD AD

AD

41

43 66–68 AD 68 AD AD

AD

69

Marcus Petreius’ praetorian cohort breaks Sullan veterans at Pistoria. Praetorian cohort of caetrati in Marcus Petreius’ army in Spain. Caesar dismisses Spanish bodyguards; Marc Antony and Octavian form guard units from Caesar’s veterans. Praetorian cohorts in action at Forum Gallorum; Octavian’s cohort destroyed. Praetorian cohorts in Antony’s Parthian expedition. Praetorians and speculatores in Actium campaign. Octavian disbands Calagurritani bodyguard. Octavian becomes the first Roman emperor; he takes the name Augustus and doubles the praetorians’ pay. Praetorian service set at 12 years. Praetorian service increased to 16 years. Varian disaster; Germani corporis custodes temporarily removed from Rome. Praetorians and Germani with Drusus in Pannonia. Two praetorian cohorts with Germanicus at Idisiovisa. Completion of Castra Praetoria; all nine praetorian cohorts quartered in Rome. Fall of the praetorian prefect Sejanus. Number of praetorian cohorts increased to 12. Praetorians and Germani in Caligula’s German expedition. Caligula murdered by praetorian officers led by Cassius Chaerea; praetorians declare Claudius emperor. Praetorians in Claudius’ invasion of Britain. Praetorians with Nero in Greece. Praetorians abandon Nero and recognize Galba as emperor; Galba disbands Germani. Praetorians declare Otho emperor and kill Galba. Otho’s guardsmen campaign against Vitellians in Liguria and Narbonensis; praetorian successes at Placentia and Castores, followed by defeat at Cremona; Otho commits suicide. Vitellius disbands praetorian cohorts and enrols new Guard; Othonian praetorians rally to Flavians; defeat of Vitellians at second battle of Cremona. Last stand of the Vitellian praetorians at the Castra Praetoria.

Guardsmen on the coinage. Top: Caligula addresses the praetorians. The emperor made Cassius Chaerea, a tough praetorian tribune, the butt of offensive jokes, and was killed for it (AD 41). Middle and bottom: coins issued by Gallienus (r. AD 260–268) to celebrate the loyalty of the praetorians and equites singulares. Note the lion, perhaps the emblem of the praetorians in the third century AD. (© RHC Archive)

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AD

70–76

AD

86–87

AD

89

AD

97

AD

98

AD 101–102 and 105–106 AD 114–117 AD 121–134 AD

162–166

168–180 188 AD 193 AD AD

197 208–211 AD 216–217 AD 217 AD AD

218 222 AD 235 AD 238 AD AD

AD

243–244

245 248 AD 260–268 AD AD

268 272 AD 282 AD AD

AD

284

Praetorian Guard re-formed again, drawing recruits from Othonians, Vitellians and Flavians; cohorts gradually reduced from 19 to nine. Praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus defeated and killed by Dacians. Praetorians in Domitian’s war against the Marcomanni. Number of praetorian cohorts now ten. Praetorians mutiny and execute those involved in murder of Domitian (ad 96). Accession of Trajan. Ringleaders of praetorian mutiny executed; speculatores lose special status and probable creation of equites singulares Augusti. Guardsmen (i.e. praetorians and equites singulares) in Trajan’s Dacian Wars. Guardsmen in Trajan’s Parthian War. Guardsmen accompany Hadrian on his tours of the provinces. Guardsmen in Lucius Verus’ Parthian War; returning guardsmen perhaps responsible for bringing plague to Rome. Guardsmen in Marcomannic and Sarmatian wars. Equites singulares save Commodus from assassination. Praetorians murder Pertinax and auction imperial throne to Didius Julianus. Septimius Severus disbands the Praetorian Guard and immediately re-forms it with soldiers selected from his legions. Praetorians at battle of Lugdunum. Praetorians with Severus in Britain. Guardsmen in Parthian War. Praetorian evocatus murders Caracalla; praetorian prefect Macrinus declared emperor. Praetorians fight for Macrinus against Elagabalus. Emperor Elagabalus murdered by praetorians. Praetorians abandon Emperor Severus Alexander. Legionaries of II Parthica and praetorians murder Emperor Maximinus at Aquileia; praetorians kill senatorial emperors Pupienus and Balbinus at Rome and make Gordian III emperor. Praetorian prefect Timesitheus defeats Persians at Rhesaina; Gordian III invades Persia but is defeated at Meshike; praetorian prefect Philip declared emperor. Praetorians in Philip’s war against the Carpi. Praetorians declare for Decius and murder Philip’s son. Guardsmen honoured for faithfulness on coinage of Emperor Gallienus. Guardsmen with Gallienus at siege of Mediolanum. Praetorians involved in defeat of Palmyrenes at Emesa. Probus killed in mutiny stirred up by praetorian prefect Carus; guardsmen in Carus’ Persian War. Praetorian prefect Aper poisons Emperor Numerian; Diocles, commander of the protectores, kills Aper and

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AD

293

AD AD

297–299 303

AD

306

AD

312

AD

313

AD

324

is declared emperor; he takes the name Diocletian. Diocletian instigates Tetrarchy; guardsmen are divided between the four emperors, but praetorians and equites singulares maintain their bases in Rome. Guardsmen in Galerius’ Persian War. Diocletian’s praetorians involved in violent persecution of Christians. Constantine recognized as emperor by guardsmen of his father, Constantius I. Maxentius is declared emperor in Rome by Praetorian Guard; he sets about restoring the size of the cohorts. Constantine defeats Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge; last stand of the Praetorian Guard. Emperor Licinius defeats his rival Maximinus Daia (a former scutarius and protector) near Adrianople. Constantine defeats Licinius at Chalcedon. Scholae guardsmen fight in the campaign.

Constantine the Great. Following his victory at the battle of the Milvian Bridge (AD 312), he disbanded the Praetorian Guard. (© RHC Archive)

ORIGINS AND EARLY HISTORY  Development of the praetorian cohort 

In January 62 bc, the small army of the rebel aristocrat Sergius Catiline was brought to battle by the forces of the Roman Republic at Pistoria. Only the core of Catiline’s army, a few thousand legionary veterans who had fought

Publius Gessius (centre), the archetypal portrait of a Roman warrior of the age of Caesar, Antony and Octavian. (© ocad123)

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for Sulla in the 80s bc, was fully armed. These men put up such a fight that Marcus Petreius, the Republican commander, was forced to call up his praetorian cohort from the reserve. With Petreius leading them, the praetorians charged the centre of Catiline’s battle line and the Sullan veterans were finally pushed back. Catiline and his lieutenants were cut down. With its centre broken, Catiline’s army finally succumbed to the greater numbers of the enemy. The ill-armed recruits fled, but the Sullan veterans stood their ground until they were all cut down. ‘A few in the centre,’ wrote Sallust, ‘whom the praetorian cohort had scattered, lay a little apart fro...

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