How Security Failures Plagued Roman Emperors

How Security Failures Plagued Roman Emperors
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

The truly professional service officers sworn to guard chiefs of state and other dignitaries — notably U.S. Secret Service officers — have a hard rule: Good intelligence is the key to saving the subject's life.

When intelligence fails, the result can be disaster. And such certainly was the case in the Roman Empire. Despite the detailing of up to 9,000 men to guard the emperors, 85 percent of the men who sat on the throne were assassinated.

Even Rose Mary Sheldon, a professor of history at Virginia Military Institute, and our foremost authority on ancient intelligence, was startled at the body count.

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