Was the position in the Praetorian Guard or as a Praetorian Prefect a path to power?

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Investigate the role of the Praetorian Guard and Praetorian Prefects under the Julio Claudians. How influential were they? What does this tell you about the nature of the principate?


Was the position in the Praetorian Guard or as a Praetorian Prefect a path to power, or a dangerous move?

The Praetorian Guard and its origin:

Originally, a general in the Republic was protected by a guard called the 'Cohors Praetoria," named after the commander's headquarters (praetorium). The Praetorian Guard was named in imitation of the Cohors Praetoria, and when Augustus became the first ruler in 27 BC he decided such a formation was useful certainly not only in war, but also in politics.

Augustus transformed the troops into the core of his own elite army at Rome, and also in Italy, which consisted of nine cohorts of 500 to 1000 men. He understood the need to have a protector in the maelstrom of Rome, and was careful to uphold the Republican appearance of his regime, and thus kept only three of the nine cohorts on duty at any given time in the capital.

The remaining six were usually distributed in a number of Italian towns.

The members of the Praetorian Guard enjoyed superior conditions such as substantially higher amounts of pay than other Roman soldiers, and a shorter length of required service. They also received gifts of money called Donativum, on special occasions from the emperor. Upon retirement, a soldier of the Praetorian Guard is granted with 20,000 sesterces, a gift of land, and a diploma reading "to the warrior, who bravely and faithfully completed his service." Most men who served in the guard were of Italian origin.

The Praetorian Guardsmen undertook more intense training than those in the legions, because of the amount of free time...