Front Page Titles (by Subject) 8.: PROTECTORES AND DOMESTICI — ( P. 150 ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 3
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8.: PROTECTORES AND DOMESTICI — ( P. 150 ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 3 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 3.
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PROTECTORES AND DOMESTICI — (P. 150)
The origin and organisation of the imperial guards, named Protectores and Domestici, who so often meet us in our historical authorities from the time of Constantine forward, have been eludicated, so far as the scanty material allows, by Mommsen in a paper entitled Protectores Augusti, in the Ephemeris Epigraphica, v. p. 121 sqq.
In the second half of the third century there existed protectores of two kinds: protectores Augusti, and protectores of the prætorian prefect. The latter (whose existence is proved by epigraphic evidence, cp. C.I.L. vi. 3238) naturally ceased when, under Constantine’s new régime, the prætorian prefect ceased to have military functions.
The earliest instance of a protector Augusti whose date we can control is that of Taurus, who was consul in 261 , and held the office of prætorian prefect. An inscription (whose date must fall between 261 and 267 , Orelli, 3100) mentions that he had been a protector Augusti. Mommsen calculates that he must have held that post before 253 , and infers that protectors were instituted about the middle of the century, by Decius or possibly Philip. The full title of the protector was protector divini lateris Augusti nostri, preserved in one inscription found at Ocriculæ (Orelli, 1869); for this form cp. Cod. Theod. vi. 24, 9. The abbreviation protector Augusti is the regular formula up to Diocletian; after Diocletian it is simply protector.
The protectors were soldiers who had shown special competence in their service, and were rewarded by a post in which they received higher pay (they were called ducenarii from the amount of their salary) and had the expectation of being advanced to higher military commands. Gallienus hindered Senators from serving as officers in the army, and from that time the service of the protectors became a sort of military training school (Mommsen, l. c. p. 137) to supply commanders (ad regendos milites, Ammianus). From Aurelian’s time (ib. 131) the protectors seem to have been organised as a bodyguard of the Emperor, with a captain of their own. (The earliest mention of the service in legislation is in a law of 325 , Cod. Th. vii. 20, 4.);
Constantine completely abolished the prætorian and the military functions of the praef. praet. With this change we must connect his reorganisation of the protectores (ib. 135). The nature of this reorganisation was determined by his abrogation of the measure of Gallienus which excluded senators from military command. A body of guards was instituted, called Domestici or Houseguards, which was designed to admit nobles and sons of senators to a career in the army. Thus there were now two corps of palace guards, that of the Protectors who were enrolled for distinguished service, and were consequently veterans, and that of the Domestics who were admitted nobilitate et gratia, through birth and interest. But the two were closely connected and jointly commanded by captains called Counts of the Domestics; and the two names came to be interchangeable and used indifferently of one or the other.
It cannot indeed be strictly demonstrated that Constantine organised the Domestics, who are first mentioned in a law of 346 (Cod. Th. xii. 1, 38); but this hypothesis is far more likely than any other. At the same time the pay of the guards was probably increased — a necessary result of the new monetary system of Constantine.1 The epithet ducenarii was given up, and became attached to the schola of agentes in rebus. The rank of a guardsman was perfectissimus, but the first ten in standing (decem primi) were clarissimi.
By a law of Valentinian (Cod. Th. vi. 24, 2) veterans were enrolled in the guards gratis, while all others had to pay. The ultimate result was that veterans ceased to be enrolled altogether, and the post of domesticus or protector was regularly purchased. The traffic in these offices in Justinian’s time is noticed by Procopius, Hist. Arc. c. 24.
[1 ]We may guess that under Diocletian they were still ducenarii, and so profited by his raising the weight of the aureus from 1-170th to 1-60th. Constantine would not have reduced their pay; so that they would no longer be ducenarii.