Imperial guard

In the Classical Period, two tagmai of heavy infantry serving as household troops to the emperor.

One of these tagmai is the Aotos or ‘Sacred Band’. It is the oldest tagma in the army, and derives from an Archaic Period unit set up in imitation of the famous Sacred Band of Samariopolis. Its members are paired off as couples of homosexual lovers, sworn to defend one another in battle.

The Aotos is the only tagma in which all officers are promoted from the ranks. When a man is promoted to a command, his lover is always made his lieutenant. The Aotos fought with distinction for Hyrkanthes in the Civil War, and was thoroughly purged by Jasper of Suvein after the victory of Regikhord IV.

The original second brigade of the Imperial Guard was the Nikē, a tagma of elite hoplites officered by sons of the dynastai. It was annihilated by the Melankreuthes at the Battle of Orio during the Civil War.

After the Civil War a new tagma of imperial guards was formed to replace the Nikē: the Arētē. The biggest men and best soldiers from all brigades except the Aotos and the Melankreuthēs were drafted. In partial imitation of the Melankreuthēs they were trained to fight in semi-open order, but they were armed with rhomfeiai.

For the remainder of the Classical Period outstanding soldiers and exceptionally talented recruits were allowed the choice of joining the Aotos or the Arētē.

The above tagmai survive in the Decadent Period, considerably under strength, no longer with access to the pick of all recruits, and with promotions made by the polemarkh with eye to political reliability. Somehow they manage to cling to the shreds of their ancient prestige.

All members of imperial guards tagmai receive half an obol per day more pay than other troops of the same rank.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.