By Arnold Blumberg Its name has become synonymous with intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, and assassination. It was responsible for the overthrow, abandonment, or murder of 15 out of the first 48 emperors who governed Rome between 27 bc and ad 305. Its deterioration into a ruthless mercenary force is its most enduring legacy. Yet the original purpose of the Praetorian Guard was far from the brutal history it eventually left behind. Created by the first emperor of Rome, Augustus, the Guard was designed to protect the monarch and the royal family, thus extending their reign and keeping the army, Senate, and Roman mob in line. The only armed troops allowed to be quartered south of the Rubicon River, Italy’s northern boundary, the Guard massed at their citadel, the Castra Praetoria, a potent political as well as military force. Their cooperation would assure stability in the Empire by shielding the emperor from harm, thus making his will supreme and his actions final. The origins of the Praetorian Guard were rooted in a practice common to the armies formed by Republican Rome. Beginning in the third century bc, Roman military commanders created a small body of soldiers to act as their bodyguards. Such units first appeared in the armies raised by the Scipio family in 275 bc. (The Scipio clan would continue to have an important influence on Roman military defense policy and expansion through the first century bc). During the siege of Numantia, which ended in 133 bc, Scipio Aemilia


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