chapter  6
10 Pages

Sejanus

When Augustus died in AD 14, the praetorian guard was commanded by two men of equestrian status, Lucius Seius Strabo and his son, Lucius Aelius Sejanus. The guard made up most of the troops actually stationed in Italy, as Augustus had decided that the permanent garrison posts for the legions and auxiliary contingents should be in the provinces. The purpose of this had been partly, of course, to guarantee peace in the provinces but partly also to avoid the impression of military dictatorship which the presence of large numbers of troops in Italy would have given. The praetorian guard, which in republican times had been the bodyguard given to holders of imperium, was assigned to Augustus and arranged into nine cohorts of 1,000 men each. The troops were billeted in the small towns around Rome, presumably to keep their profile low. Further, to avoid the potential danger to himself posed by such troops, Augustus ensured that there would be two commanders (prefects) and that these would be of equestrian, rather than senatorial, status.