The Praetorian Guard

Mind Map by ShelleyL, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by ShelleyL over 6 years ago


This is a mind map covering the importance of the P.G in both Tiberius' and Claudius' reigns.

Resource summary

The Praetorian Guard
  1. Tiberius
    1. Symbol of Threat
      1. Tacitus: Sejanus concentrated the Guard into one camp just outside of Rome.
        1. Suetonius: Tiberius concentrated the Guard into one camp to prevent riots and banditry attacks. Though one could argue that Tiberius did this to ensure the people's safety, it is more convincing that this sent an alternative message - that the Guard was very close and the people should not challenge Tiberius, thus becomes the Guard becomes a symbol of threat.
        2. Symbol of Power
          1. The Praetorian Guard was similar to a royal guard; if you exercised control over it, you were publicly saying that you held the position of Princeps.
            1. Tacitus: when Tiberius acceded Augustus, he gave the watch word to the Guard and had them escort him into the Senate House. It is not apparent that Tiberius has taken control of the empire, but this becomes explicit once he does this.
              1. Tacitus: in the trial of Urgulania, Tiberius wishes to represent her as her Pater Familias (the head of the household) rather than as Princeps to prevent him swaying the verdict. To do this, he sends his guard away. This is a symbolic gesture, that he is removing his imperial power by removing his guard, thus showing that the Guard is a symbol of Tiberius' power.
              2. Symbol of Hypocrisy
                1. Tacitus: the guard becomes a symbol of Tiberius' hypocrisy in his accession. He tells the Senate that the arrangement of Augustus' last rites will be the only state affair he will perform and is hesitant to take power. Yet he takes control of the Guard, thus publicly saying that he holds the power of the Princeps.
                  1. Suetonius: he suggests that Tiberius did not hesitate to exercise his power by calling on the Praetorians to provide him with a bodyguard, which was to rule in fact and in appearance. But Suetonius explains that this was long before he assumed the position of Princeps, showing Tiberius to be a hypocrite.
                  2. Succession Policy
                    1. Cassius Dio: portrays Sejanus as being almost as equal to Tiberius, describing that he had statues erected alongside him and shared a consulship with him. This shows that Sejanus could be being groomed to be the next emperor, or at least he was plotting to be. Tiberius had him replaced by Macro, who killed Sejanus. This shows that in times of need, the Praetorian Guard are extremely important and may have effected succession as well.
                      1. Suetonius: (not set, Gaius 12) Gaius is said to have had Macro kill Tiberius with poison, and when he began to fight, smothered him with a pillow. This shows that for you to succeed power in the principate, you must have the Guard onside, showing that they were significant in regard to succession.
                    2. Claudius
                      1. Symbol of Threat
                        1. Suetonius: when Claudius came to power, the Senate wished for the return of the Republic. They had the Urban Cohorts on side while Claudius had the Praetorian Guard, which were greater in size. Thus, Claudius is sending the Senate a message that they shouldn't challenge his because of his large body of guards.
                          1. Numismatics: Claudius publicly displayed his close ties to the Guard by putting the Praetorian Camp on coins. It can be assumed that this was represented Claudius' gratitude towards the Guard, as thy made him emperor effectively, but also served to remind the Senate that Claudius had the Guard onside.
                          2. Symbol of Power
                            1. Suetonius: Gaius Caligula was killed by on of the members of the Praetorian Guard. This shows how much power they had. Therefore, for an emperor to obtain stable power, they needed the Guard on side, thus the power of the Guard becomes bound to that of the Princeps - if the emperor loses the Guard, they lose their power.
                            2. Succession Policy
                              1. Tacitus: Agrippina alongside Pallas had, by the end of Claudius' reign, replaced the entire body of the Praetorian Guard with those of whom she could trust. She replaced the commander of the Guard with Burrus. This becomes more obvious when Nero comes to power, where all the guard cheer for him and not for Britannicus.
                              2. Protection
                                1. Suetonius: when the Guard made Claudius emperor, they took him to the Praetorian Camp to protect him.
                                  1. Suetonius: Claudius had had Silius (Messalina's lover/husband) killed within the Praetorian Camp. This shows that they when the emperor needs protection from a possible threat, the Guard are extremely influential.
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