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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Custodians of Empire: The Praetorian Guard (Online) (PGHC11551)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe praetorian guard was an elite Roman military force, in existence for over three hundred years. Adapted from a republican institution by Augustus, it was in essence the personal army of the emperor and within a very short time was also responsible for specialised military tasks and for various administrative duties in Rome, such as policing the games. This course will examine the praetorian guard from its establishment to its demise in 312 CE, considering aspects as diverse as the physical make-up of the unit and the political influence that it had in Rome.
Course description This course will consider the development of the praetorian guard by the first emperor Augustus and, in particular, why there was a need for such a unit in the principate. Despite the prominence of the guard in modern presentations of imperial Rome, finding specific information about them is challenging, since the ancient literary sources did not often discuss the unit and when they did, it was inevitably to malign either the guard or the emperor. There is a dearth of material evidence as well until into the second century CE. Students will therefore be challenged to interpret what little we have remaining in an attempt to determine the numbers of soldiers, how they looked and what they did. Such a study will provide students with an idea of the difficulty of understanding the ways in which those who wielded absolute power in the Roman Empire maintained that power for several centuries.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Custodians of Empire: The Praetorian Guard (ANHI10034)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology (at least 1 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop and sustain scholarly arguments in written form by formulating appropriate questions and by selecting and utilising relevant evidence
  2. Understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material and different scholarly approaches to it
  3. Articulate and apply an understanding of the military and political character of the praetorian guard and the ways in which that unit interacted with various institutions in Rome and beyond
Reading List
Bedoyere, Guy de la (2018) Praetorian. The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial Bodyguard. New Haven.

Bingham, S.J. (2013) The Praetorian Guard. A History of Rome's Elite Special Forces. London.

Campbell, J.B. (1994) The Roman Army 31 BC-AD 337: A Sourcebook. Oxford.

Coulston, J. (2018) 'The army in imperial Rome', in Clare Holleran and Amanda Claridge (eds), A Companion to the City of Rome. Oxford: 173-195.

Durry, M. (1938) Les Cohortes Prétoriennes. Paris.

Keppie, L. (1996) 'The praetorian guard before Sejanus', Athenaeum 84: 101-124.

Passerini, A.(1939) Le Coorti Pretorie. Rome.

Rankov, B. (1994) The Praetorian Guard. London.

Ricci, C. (2018) Security in Roman Times: Rome, Italy and the Emperors. Abingdon.

Sablayrolles, Robert (2001) 'La rue, le soldat et le pouvoir: la garnison de Rome de César à Pertinax', Pallas 55: 127-153.

Speidel, M. (1994) Riding for Caesar. London.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Assimilate, process and communicate a wide range of information from a variety of sources.

Process and critically assess information derived from historical research, utilising theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills specific to the subject area.

Provide clear written and oral analyses based on historical information.

Master practical skills in accessing and interpreting historical sources.

Construct and pursue a coherent argument driven by analysis of the primary source material.

Analyse, assimilate and deploy critically a range of secondary literature relevant and essential to the student's individual research subject.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sandra Bingham
Tel: (0131 6)50 6689
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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