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Companions in Toil

Michael Kulikowski: The Praetorian Guard

3 May 2017
Praetorian: The Rise and Fall of Rome’s Imperial Bodyguard 
by Guy de​ la Bédoyère.
Yale, 336 pp., £25, March 2017, 978 0 300 21895 4
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... come within a hundred miles of Rome on pain of death. Severus then constituted a new, hand-picked Guard from the best of the troops who had followed him. The auction story is impossible to resist and Guyde la Bédoyère duly starts with it. Similarly dramatic scenes pervade his book: whenever the praetorians enter the light of history, drama is unavoidable. The Praetorian Guard was important because ...

Little Brits

Tom Shippey: Murder on Hadrian’s Wall

19 November 2015
The Real Lives of Roman Britain 
by Guy de​ la Bédoyère.
Yale, 241 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20719 4
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... ever done for us?’ John Cleese asks in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. His audience, not realising his question is rhetorical, replies: aqueducts, sanitation, medicine, public order, etc etc. Guyde la Bédoyère, on the other hand, doesn’t need a list: the Romans’ most important legacy, he suggests in his new book, is literacy, and specifically the habit of written memorialisation. Pre ...

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