Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Praetorians in 354 AD
#1
If Constantine is suppose to have abolished the Praetorian Guard, then why does “The Chronology of 354 AD” state “10 Praetorian cohorts, 4 Urban cohorts, 7 cohorts of watchmen of which 14 are exubitores (guardsmen).

 
Am I at the mercy of a shonky translation? And should I assume the total of Praetorians, Urbans and watchmen is 21 cohorts, which includes the 14 exubitores?
 
Your input would be greatly appreciated.
Reply
#2
(09-18-2017, 10:28 AM)Steven James Wrote: why does “The Chronology of 354 AD” state “10 Praetorian cohorts, 4 Urban cohorts, 7 cohorts of watchmen of which 14 are exubitores (guardsmen).


The directory of the 14 regions of Rome (here) included in the Chronography of 354 apparently includes details from several different eras - no mention of the Arch of Constantine, or various Christian churches, but the equestrian statue of AD334 is mentioned.

The best theory seems to be that the origin of the directory lies in the era of Diocletian, and that while various details were added later, earlier and obsolete details were not removed. These details would include the praetorian guard, the castra equitum singulariorum (demolished by Constantine) and possibly the urban cohorts as well, which seem to have disappeared from Rome itself at some point early in the 4th century. There's a brief discussion of the problem of dating the list here.

Quorum excubitoria does not refer to guardsmen (like the Byzantine excubitores) but to the watch houses or guard houses of the Vigiles called excubitoria. There were apparently two for each cohort - the excubitorium of Cohors VIII still exists today in Piazza San Crisogono.
Nathan Ross
Reply
#3
http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/chrono...eintro.htm

One can read a discussion of this text under the heading: Additional notes on part 14: the 14 regions of Rome

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/chrono...f_rome.htm

The Text in question.

The Modern Academics state that the Praetorians were disbanded by Constantine on 28 October 312AD, the prime evidence they give for this is Zosimus who said: “On this occasion Constantine punished very few, and they were only some few of the nearest friends of Maxentius; but he abolished the praetorian troops, and destroyed the fortresses in which they used to reside.”

Let’s see what happens when one opposes this dogma:

From Constantine to Julian Pagan and Byzantine Views A Source History Samuel N.C. Lieu and Dominic Montserrat:

The Anonymous Life of Constantine (BHG 364) translated by Frank Beetham; revised by Dominic Montserrat and Sam Lieu:

“(6) After speaking these words to his son Constantine and seating him on the imperial throne, and after calling together the whole Senate and Praetorian Guard…”

It seems every Augustus/Caesar had its own Praetorian Guard. It seems Constantine I received the Praetorian Guard from his father Constantius Chlorus. Constantine I invaded Italy, defeated Maxentius and according to Zosimus abolished the praetorian troops. Which Praetorian troops? Those of Maxentius? Those of Constantine I? Both? And what about the Praetorian Guard of Licinius? Were those disbanded too? And why would Constantine I disband his own Praetorian guard, received from his father, and presumably had served him well all those years? Would he punish his own Praetorian Guard?
Reply
#4
(09-18-2017, 12:18 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: One can read a discussion of this text under the heading: Additional notes on part 14: the 14 regions of Rome

Seems we both posted that at about the same time! [Image: smile.png]


(09-18-2017, 12:18 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Modern Academics state that the Praetorians were disbanded by Constantine on 28 October 312AD, the prime evidence they give for this is Zosimus

Also Aurelius Victor (De Caes. 40.25), who says that the Maxentian praetoriae legiones ac subsidia were disbanded. Panegrici Latini XII (21.2-3) says that the survivors of the Maxentian forces were sent to the Rhine and Danube frontiers 'stripped of impious weapons and rearmed against barbarian foes' - the orator mentions that these troops formerly hung around the Circus Maximus, Theatre of Pompey and the Baths, so the praetorians seem to be the men concerned. Praetorian tombstones along the Via Flaminia were also destroyed and used to repair the road.

The disbanding of the Equites Singulares (or Equites Domini Nostri) is further evidenced by the destruction of tombstones (used as church foundations) and the Lateran basilica being built over their demolished fortress.


(09-18-2017, 12:18 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: It seems every Augustus/Caesar had its own Praetorian Guard... why would Constantine I disband his own Praetorian guard...?

It's an interesting question - this thread has some thoughts about it - I don't know anything more about Maurizio Colombo's theory that they were renamed Armigeri...

Maximian certainly had praetorians (inscription from Africa), as did Carausius, and Lactantius mentions Diocletian's praetoriani demolishing the church in Nicomedia. Quite possibly the word might have been used to refer to imperial guardsmen more generically though - as we find in Ammianus at one point. The title of praetorian prefect continued, of course, and 'praetorian tribune' was still used (or revived) as a honorific distinction in some of the later imperial ministries.

I would guess that most or all of Flavius Severus and Galerius's praetorians defected to Maxentius in AD307-8; so Licinius may not have had any, and may have disbanded any remaining with Maximinus Daza. What happened to Constantine's guards (assuming they hadn't previously defected to Carausius!) remains a mystery - most likely they were simply renamed and/or absorbed into one or other of the new guard units.

This thread also had some useful information and ideas about the fate of the urban cohorts and other units.
Nathan Ross
Reply
#5
Nathan wrote:

The best theory seems to be that the origin of the directory lies in the era of Diocletian, and that while various details were added later, earlier and obsolete details were not removed.
 
Thanks for the information and links Nathan. The mention of the ten praetorian cohorts and four urban is the same number as found under Augustus, that it made me suspicious of the validity of the document.

Also I have added a plus one to your reputation rating and guess what it worked.

 
Reply
#6
Ausonius The professors of Bordeaux

(page 106-107)

“now when you appeared before the prefect of the pretorian cohort. (cohortis praesulem praetoriae)”

https://archive.org/stream/deciausonius0...rch/cohort
*
There are now two 4th century authors writing about a pretorian cohort, Ammianus and Ausonius.
Reply


Forum Jump: