Castra Praetoria

The barracks of the praetorian guard, built by Tiberius at the instigation of Sejanus in 21‑23 A.D.

when these troops were quartered permanently within the city (Suet. Tib. 37; Tac. Ann. IV.2; Cass. Dio LVII.9.6; Schol. Iuv. X.95). They were in the extreme north-eastern part of Rome, just beyond the inhabited district (Plin. NH III.67; Suet. Nero 48; Not. Reg. VI), about 500 metres east of the agger, on a site that was one of the highest in Rome (59‑60 metres above sea-level), and commanded both the city and the roads leading to the east and north-east. The camp was constructed on the usual Roman model, forming a rectangle 440 metres long and 380 wide, with rounded corners. The longer axis, the cardo maximus, ran nearly north and south, and at its ends, in the middle of the shorter sides, were the porta praetoria and the porta decumana. It is not certain, however, whether the porta praetoria was on the north side or the south (HJ 387‑388 north, Antonielli, BC 1913, 31‑47 south). The cardo maximus did not divide the castra equally, and the gates at its ends, porta principalis dextra on the west and porta principalis sinistra on the east, were 190 metres from the north side and 250 from the south.1

The original walls of Tiberius (AJA 1912, 398) are of brick-faced concrete, 4.73 metres high where they are still preserved (see below), and had battlements and turreted gates (Ill. 13) (Tac. Hist. III.84; Herod. VII.11.12). The tower with three windows shown in the illustration is pre-Aurelianic, and there are traces of battlements above, contemporary with period II of the city walls.

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Authors: Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby)

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Keywords: Castra Praetoria, Fort, Praetorian, Rome, Roman


Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby)

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