cohortēs urbānae

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The police force of Rome, established by Augustus under the command of the city prefect. A permanent police force in Rome was an innovation, and the first prefect Valerius Messalla Corvinus resigned, declaring that he did not understand how to exercise his powers. Originally there were three cohorts, each commanded by a tribune and six centurions, numbered X–XII in continuation of the sequence in the praetorian guard; under the Flavians there were four cohorts in Rome. Single ‘city’ cohorts (so named because they were originally withdrawn from Rome) are found at Puteoli, Ostia, and Carthage, presumably protecting the shipment of corn to Rome, and at Lugdunum, where there was an important mint. Each cohort contained 500 men. They were recruited from Italians, served for 20 years, were paid half the rate of praetorians. Normally the soldiers of the city cohorts would, like the praetorians, provide additional protection for the emperor.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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