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The Praetorian Guard (Elite) Paperback – January 27, 1994
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From the first third, the history, the reader learns (not surprisingly) that the Guard’s history started off as personal bodyguards, albeit informal, to generals. Then the reader learns how this role became more formal and how it evolved into the personal bodyguard of the Emperor. The reader also learns how the role of the Guard changed over time, particularly in terms of different emperor’s reigns. The reader learns how the Guard became more and more involved in politics to the point they became kingmakers and were, eventually, disbanded by the Roman Constantine (because of this threat). The reader also learns how the composition of the Guard changed from almost entirely Roman to barbarian and how the Guard also developed into a fighting force on to its own right (as opposed to merely serving as the bodyguard of the Emperor). Very interesting. This reviewer only wishes that the author had spent more time on the history of the guard instead of its uniforms, standards, etc.
With respect to the coverage of uniforms, standards, etc. the coverage is also impressive. The author provides many illustrations from sculptures, amphora, mosaics, etc. that illustrate how the appearance of the Guard changed over the course of its history. For the figurine and diorama, as well as the illustrator, a very useful book especially considering (and ironically) the paucity of material on the subject. Despite its mere 40 pages of coverage of this topic, more than just a rudimentary introduction.
In short, a very decent overview of the subject, which is richly illustrated, despite its succinct length. Four stars.