Term Paper: Praetorian Guard and the Political

Pages: 4 (1447 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] And so with an open heart, I embrace my brothers and sisters in arms."

Historically, the Praetorians evoke a certain image not as soldiers but rather as plotters and conspirators. There were always two prefects appointed to the Guards. The position of the prefect's position was very influential, because of the closeness of the prefects to the center of power and of the number of men they commanded. Augustus though that it would be wise to use the old republican principle of checks and balances by appointing two prefects to foster a distribution (and instability) of power.

An example of the treacherous and cruel workings for the control and power of the Praetorian Guard is best illustrated by the life story of a member of that elite group (Fielden, 1999) Q. Naevius Cordus Sutorius Macro came from Alba Fucens, where he was born in 21 B.C. Macro was appointed Praetorian prefect by Tiberius to replace Sejanus who was the former Praetorian prefect at the time. "Sejanus thought he had the backing of the Praetorians, but found out how surprisingly easy it was for them to change their allegiance to a new commander when the emperor commanded it and promised rewards, although their change of heart was not a given in any case.

Tiberius was never really sure that he had the loyalty of the Senate and the Praetorian Guard; he considered Macro to be his trusted and loyal aid. Macro also acted as the "eyes" of Rome in the absence of the emperor -- a very powerful position. Macro was classified as a stern, all obeying prefect and a good leader.

Later, Marco attached himself to the young Caligula, who was to succeed Tiberius after this death. In the meantime, gaining more power and control of the Praetorians for himself. It is not known who -- Macro or Caligula was responsible for poisoning and smothering Tiberius to ensure that he was really dead. After Tiberius' death on March 16th, A.D. 37, when Macro and Caligula moved into Rome, there was no opposition to the young emperor's accession to the throne. Macro administered the oath of office to Caligula as Emperor. Macro had agents sent to governors and legions to proclaim that Caligula was crowned emperor. "In Rome, the Praetorians stayed quietly in their barracks and did not oppose the new princeps and were rewarded with a bonuses for this the first time that this acknowledgement of a debt for an accession had been known to happen to the Praetorian Guard."

Marco is also believed to have bought Tiberius' will to the Senate to have it read and Caligula declared it null and void, thereby denying the succession of Tiberius Gemellus to the throne of Rome. However, Macro began to lose favor with the Caligula because of his stern and authoritarian ways. Caligula did not like the fact that Macro had been a part of Tiberius's rule. Eventually, Macro and his wife Ennia were forced to commit suicide.

Caligula it is speculated probably felt uneasy with the knowledge that Macro had helped kill the previous emperor and may do the same to him, although Macro had never been disloyal to him and nether was he did loyal to Tiberius until his involvement in his death. Caligula was eventually killed, the result of a plot hatched between some senators and some tribunes of Praetorian Guard, including Cassius Chaerea and Cornelius Sabinus. The prefects Marcus Arrecinus Clemens and L. Arruntius Stella appointed by Caligula were involved in the plot to some extent - they had to know about the plot for it to be successful.

The Prefect of the Praetorian Guard enjoyed a position of extreme power and position. Many abused that power to further their financial and political careers.


Empyreans Online. "Empyreans Praetorians. http://www.silverselene.com/empyreans/culture/guard.html

Fielden, Jerry. "The Praetorian prefecture under the Julio-Claudians - path to power or dead-end job?" 1999


History Alive Online. "Reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire All left Rome open to outside invaders" http://killeenroos.com/1/Romefall.htm

RelicHunter Online. "The Roman army." http://relic-hunter.50megs.com/photo3.html

Roman Empire Online. "The Roman Army. http://www.roman-empire.net/army/army.html

Winnat, Deanne "Augustus Caesar and His Role in the Pax Romana. http://www.uca.edu/divisions/academic/history/cahr/augustus.htm [END OF PREVIEW]

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