Quod raro alias, praetorianus urbanusque miles in aciem deducti. Some considerations on the participation of the praetorian and urban cohorts in the civil wars of 69 A.D.: critical evaluation of the literary sources and the expedition against Narbonne Gaul (Part I)
During the Year of the four emperors the Praetorian Guard and the Urban cohorts played an important role in the military events of the civil wars. The paper examines some problems related to the involvement of these military corps in the military campaigns of AD 69. The literary sources often describe the Praetorians and the Urbaniniciani as passionate and violent, like the other milites of the Roman army, and moreover as second-rate and undisciplined soldiers; a careful analysis assesses if these descriptions are truthful or depend on the use of literary topoi and if the soldiers of urban troops were really inferior warriors to the legionaries serving on the frontier. Secondly, the paper examines accurately one of the conflicts in which the urban troops took part: the maritime expedition that Otho launched to attack Narbonense Gaul. The analysis of the literary and epigraphic documentation, thanks to new updated interpretations of the sources, fosters the acquisition of new and more precise historical information in order to reconstruct this military campaign.
Keywords: Praetorians, Urban cohorts, Roman army, Year of the Four Emperors, Otho.
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