Favourite Caligula story

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,411
Slovenia
#43
But would 500 not be a before a breakfast job to 5000 Praetorians? Caligula was trampling all Roman elites and customs, in my book enough for a court revolution. What happened to those German guards after Caligula's assassination?
 
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#44
A bodyguard is simply to protect the emperor from individuals or conspirators. The Praetorian guard is a different case, any emnity coming from them could probably be quelled by giving them gold.
 
Mar 2018
329
UK
#45
But would 500 not be a before a breakfast job to 5000 Praetorians? Caligula was trampling all Roman elites and customs, in my book enough for a court revolution. What happened to those German guards after Caligula's assassination?
Having two equally powerful armies in the capital with potentially different political interests seems like an absolute recipe for disaster. A small one as a personal body guard, and another as a local state army seems a lot less risky.
 
Aug 2015
2,201
uk
#46
As long as they were paid and treated well, all was good. If they weten't then things could get... problematic. As for 500 bodyguards, this does seem like overkill (or over anti-kill) but is an indication of his popularity (or his paranoia). This number SHOULD be enough to protect the Emperor and his immediate family and their property/interests against any surprise attack.

The fact that there may be more Praetorians is irrelevant, as the likelihood was that any plot would be hatched by only a small number of people, usually those with close access to Caesar. The bigger the plot, the more men involved, the more chance it would be exposed and the conspirators confounded. There would be untold riches and significant promotion for those who uncovered a plot.

It also has to be questioned how unpopular Caligula was with the Praetorian. Certainly they were treated well, had special privelege and good pay, and what was it to them if their leaders were ridiculed by their commander in chief? Doubtless many of the Praetorian troops had derogatory nicknames for their commanders and likely found Caligula's treatment of them amusing rather than deserving of his assassination. And of course with their bosses death, the question of their future was very much in doubt; a return to the Republic could see their disbandment or perhaps even a return to standard army duties away frim Rome. Certainly their protection and support for Caligula's uncle shows that many had not turned against the emperor; those who had plotted against him would fear reprisals from his surviving relative.
 
#47
Incidentally, the German bodyguard appears to have eventually become large enough to put up some kind of fight against the Praetorians. In 238 the Praetorians seized the emperors Pupienus and Balbinus and took them into the street, where they tortured them. The German bodyguard ran to the rescue, and the Praetorians, realising they were running out of time, finished off the emperors so that the Germans would have nothing to fight for.

Herodian 8.8.7: When the Germans learned what was happening, they snatched up their arms and hastened to the rescue. As soon as the praetorians were informed of their approach, they killed the mutilated emperors.
 

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