Special Services and Units of the State Security Guard in Ancient World
Authors: Alexey N. Grebenkin
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This article presents the attempt to carry out a comprehensive scientific analysis of the history, development and activities of special services and state protection units in ancient Greek city-states and Ancient Rome.
Speaking about the Ancient Greek special services, the author focuses on the fact that the creation of full-fledged structures responsible for the safety of policies and their inhabitants was impossible due to organizational and financial reasons caused by the small size of city-states. That’s why the set of special services was reduced to Scythian police units in Athens which were existing for a limited time period. The active military policy and a permanent tension of the inner life in Ancient Rome led to the creation of numerous special services (frumentarii and speculatores, agentes in rebus), which were created for the most part as the structure of the army, but quickly gained the function of political investigation. Besides, in Ancient Rome the important role was played by the bodies which provided public order (vigils and city cohorts).
The development of state protection bodies in Ancient Greek city-states was closely connected with the institute of tyranny. Tyrant surrounded himself with troops of the guard, who, in addition to purely security and executive functions, carried important political meaning. At the same time, the practical side of the activities of security agencies has never been put completely in the background. This is evidenced by the fact that the protection involved both physically developed and nimble winners of the Olympic games and well-trained military formations (hippies in Sparta, the Sacred Band of Thebes, Agema in Macedonia). The security guard service of Ancient Rome also invariably involved military units: celeres in the Roman Kingdom, ablecta in the Roman Republic, the praetorians and auxillia palatina in the Roman Empire. In addition, representative and security tasks were solved by special civil servants (the lictors). The specificity of political relations in the Roman Empire turned the praetorians from a security structure into a drive belt of state coups. This is the clear illustration of the inadmissibility of politicization of security units.