Originally the term, "praetorian," referred to a Roman general's tent ("praetor"), but after the age of Roman conquest it came to be used in an administrative sense to denote the headquarters or residence of the political/military administration (cf. Matt. 27:27; John 18:28,33; 19:9; Acts 23:35; Phil. 1:13).

However, in the first century Roman world it was used for the officers who made up the special Imperial Guard.  This elite group of soldiers was begun by Augustus (27 b.c.) but was finally concentrated in Rome by Tiberius. They

1. were all of the same rank, centurions

2. received double pay

3. had special privileges (i.e., retired after 16 years instead of 25 years)

4. became so powerful that their choice for Emperor was always honored

It was not until the time of Constantine that this elite, politically powerful group was finally disbanded.

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