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In: Ammianus Marcellinus From Soldier to Author


In July 2018, the French newspaper Le Monde disclosed the unauthorized use of force by Alexandre Benalla, President Emmanuel Macron’s bodyguard and chargé de mission, who had been recorded molesting protesters on Labor Day in the guise of a policeman. The affair was highly publicized in the media, and the scandal had many ramifications as Benalla’s close connections with well-placed individuals came to light. Some journalists, perhaps influenced by the President’s self-styled “jupiterian” style of government, did not hesitate to speak of Macron’s “Praetorian Guard” – an expression vigorously denied by the official presidential communication. Indeed, for a general public, and even at times for historians or classicists not versed in military matters, the Praetorian Guard might be considered the archetypal bodyguards of the ancient world, whose name conjures images of battle-hardened elite soldiers, responsible for the safety of emperors through oft-violent means, but also guilty of infamous treasons, murders and coups. Hopefully, this volume, initiating a comparative history of bodyguards in the Ancient Mediterranean world, from Old Kingdom Egypt to sixth century Byzantium, will demonstrate the limits of these clichés. Though this collection covers a wide range in time and space, and highlights such diverse topics as the recruitment, military functions, ceremonial role or political importance of bodyguards, a few common themes emerge, encouraging further research.

In: Brill’s Companion to Bodyguards in the Ancient Mediterranean