What if the Praetorian Guard had restored the Republic after assassinating Caligula?

Aug 2011
4,213
Gaillimh (Ireland)
#2
My thoughts:

The praetorians' only reason to exist was to protect the Emperor and his family, so I really doubt that the Praetorian Guard would have been responsible for an hypothetical restoration of the Republic.
Serving under the Scorpion(the symbol of the guard) was considered one of the greatest honors and one of the most yearned position in the entire Empire(with a massive amount of privileges and prerogatives,with less stressing duties compared to the ones of regular soldiers)...It was the "door opener" for the political and social life in Rome...we have records of a lot of young soldiers asking a powerful and influential figure for patronage and recommendations in order to join the ranks of the Preatorian Guard; of course some of them even resorted to bribery or false documents

I can't see the Praetorians(extremely ambitious guys by nature) "committing suicide" and going back to serve as regular legionaries; for them the best choice is pretty obvious: support a pretender and squeeze every single denarius out of him!
 
#3
My thoughts:

The praetorians' only reason to exist was to protect the Emperor and his family, so I really doubt that the Praetorian Guard would have been responsible for an hypothetical restoration of the Republic.
Serving under the Scorpion(the symbol of the guard) was considered one of the greatest honors and one of the most yearned position in the entire Empire(with a massive amount of privileges and prerogatives,with less stressing duties compared to the ones of regular soldiers)...It was the "door opener" for the political and social life in Rome...we have records of a lot of young soldiers asking a powerful and influential figure for patronage and recommendations in order to join the ranks of the Preatorian Guard; of course some of them even resorted to bribery or false documents

I can't see the Praetorians(extremely ambitious guys by nature) "committing suicide" and going back to serve as regular legionaries; for them the best choice is pretty obvious: support a pretender and squeeze every single denarius out of him!
Would it not have been possible for them to keep as much power in an alternative capacity, such as a "home guard" to protect Rome from further political instability (i.e. defending the Senate against coups/conspirators)?
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
#4
Perhaps I'm just being a party pooper, but I'm simply having too much difficulty imagining this, even within the realm of speculative history, to ponder what it would have looked like.
 

kazeuma

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
2,366
#5
The Republic was dead - Augustus was the final nail in that coffin. yet if you look at Robert Graves's "Claudius series" you can get that Claudius the Stammerer still had some republican sympathies - when the Pretorians found him and proclaimed him emperor he shouted "Republic republic, republic" where on the pretorians responded, "Shut up idiot, if the germans hear this they will cut your balls off."
The best hope for a return to a republic was after the suicide of Nero - the Senate instead of letting a civil war choose the next emperor could have stepped in and restablished its dominance. .
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,915
UK
#6
Imo, It would not have worked ever again as a system. Rome was too corrupted by hellenised culture, power, and the Praetorians would not have power if the republic was restored.
 
Dec 2009
19,933
#7
Was the Republican system definitively obsolete or could it have made a comeback?
An interesting point; however, please note that as currently states he OP is fallaciously begging the question.

In fact, the OP is not exactly "speculative (alternative) History"; there actually was an attempt of some senators & praetorians to return to the status previus to the crossing of the Rubicon.

After the murder of Gaius the consuls despatched guards to every part of the city and convened the senate on the Capitol, where many and diverse opinions were expressed; for some favoured a democracy, some a monarchy, and some were for choosing one man, and some another. 2 In consequence they spent the rest of the day and the whole night without accomplishing anything...

The consuls for a time sent tribunes and others forbidding him to do anything of the sort, but to submit to the authority of the people and of the senate and of the laws; when, however, the soldiers who were with them deserted them, then at last they, too, yielded and voted him all the remaining prerogatives pertaining to the sovereignty.
(Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX: I: I & IV)

... he [Claudius] became emperor in his fiftieth year by a remarkable freak of fortune.
When the assassins of Gaius [aka Caligula] shut out the crowd under pretence that the emperor wished to be alone, Claudius was ousted with the rest and withdrew to an apartment called the Hermaeum; and a little later, in great terror at the news of the murder, he stole away to a balcony hard by and hid among the curtains which hung before the door.
As he cowered there, a common soldier, who was prowling about at random, saw his feet, intending to ask who he was, pulled him out and recognized him; and when Claudius fell at his feet in terror, he hailed him as emperor.
Then he took him to the rest of his comrades, who were as yet in a condition of uncertainty and purposeless rage.
These placed him in a litter, took turns in carrying it, since his own bearers had made off, and bore him to the Camp in a state of despair and terror, while the throng that met him pitied him, as an innocent man who was being hurried off to execution.
Received within the rampart, he spent the night among the sentries with much less hope than confidence; for the consuls with the senate and the city cohorts had taken possession of the Forum and the Capitol, resolved on maintaining the public liberty.
When he too was summoned to the House by the tribunes of the commons, to give his advice on the situation, he sent word that "he was detained by force and compulsion."
But the next day, since the senate was dilatory in putting through its plans because of the tiresome bickering of those who held divergent views, while the populace, who stood about the hall, called for one ruler and expressly named Claudius, he allowed the armed assembly of the soldiers to swear allegiance to him, and promised each man fifteen thousand sesterces; being the first of the Caesars who resorted to bribery to secure the fidelity of the troops.
As soon as his power was firmly established, he considered it of foremost importance to obliterate the memory of the two days when men had thought of changing the form of government.
Accordingly he made a decree that all that had been done and said during that period should be pardoned and forever forgotten; he kept his word too, save only that a few of the tribunes and centurions who had conspired against Gaius were put to death, both to make an example of them and because he knew that they had also demanded his own deat
(Caius Suetonius Tranquillus, Divus Claudius, X,I : XI,I)

Such attempt proved to be just some historical delirious mirage, an opium dream.

It would have been like pretending to reconstruct the Mogul state after the end of the colonial Raj in India, or the Mayan city-states after the end of the Spanish colonialism in Central America.

The Roman Republic was never "obsolete"; it was simply too complex a system to b replicated so easily.

It had been the unique dynamic centuries-long product of unique conditions of the cultural clash between Latins & Etruscans.

The dynamic forces required for its survical had been thoroughly shattered and/distorted generations ago.

The Empire was now an absolute military autocracy, and the all-powerful army that kept it running, from the praetorians to the Germanic guard, had stopped being a citizen militia long ago; they were now the dependent clients of the ruling dynasty and it immense private economic resources.

The Senate had litle resemblance with the old autonomous executive & legislative body of the Republic; consuls, tribunes and other magistracies were now just little more than honorific titles for the curricula of the Imperial bureaucracy.

The Roman nobility was now almost entirely extinct.

And the old half-millennium democratic tradition of Roman people was just a remote blurred memory that meant little or nothing to the masses revering their literally divine dynasty, not to mention the proletarians of the city or Rome itself most pragmatically worried for their Panem et Circenses.
 
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