… The establishment of a standing army, and the disarming of the militia, places any nation at the mercy of a successful general…
…The just administration of Pertinax excited their indignation and contempt. Murmurs deep and loud rose from the Pretorian guard. Three hundred of them in a body, and in open day, marched to the palace, entered unresisted, dispatched Pertinax with swords and javelins, and parading his gory head upon a lance, marched triumphantly through the streets back to their barracks. The citizens of Rome looked on in dismay and submission. It was not safe for any one to utter a word against the army. One hundred thousand soldiers, well-armed and drilled, are deemed amply sufficient to hold in subjection ten millions of unarmed people. The establishment of a standing army, and the disarming of the militia, places any nation at the mercy of a successful general.
The Pretorian guard amounted to but sixteen thousand men, organized in sixteen cohorts. These renowned Pretorian bands, in the highest state of discipline, were assembled in a permanent camp, just outside the walls of Rome, on the broad summit of the Quirinal and Viminal hills. The remains of their line of ramparts, it is supposed, may still be traced. These helmed troops overawed the four millions of Rome; and, through the subject senate, and the still more servile populace of the metropolis, held the mastery of an empire of one hundred and fifty millions.
The soldiers, in their entrenched camp, rallying around the head of Pertinax, the hideous trophy of their power, perpetrated the memorable scandal of selling the throne, at auction, to the highest bidder. They felt safe in taking the bids, for if any one failed to pay the proffered price, the soldiers had, as it was well known, a very short and decisive way of settling the account. Rome had indeed now fallen; for the emperor had become but the prow of the national ship, while the soldiers manned the oars, and held the rudder…
–excerpted from Italy (1882 )by John S.C. Abbott. p. 349, New York: Peter Fenelon Collier & Son
Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.
EDMUND BURKE 1729 – 1797