Peter Sidney Derow
Because the modern legal system used in most western countries derives from ancient Rome, it is easy to assume that Roman courts (and the activities that took place before them) were the same as their modern descendants. However, differences exist—great enough in number and importance that all scholars of the ancient world must take care when drawing conclusions without solid evidence to support them. The history of Roman courts, in both the republican and imperial periods, shows the profound differences between Roman and modern courts in both their cultural and physical aspects.
Andrew M. Riggsby
“Crime” lacks a fully agreed definition across modern societies, but competing versions tend to stress notions like punishment, protection of public or collective interests, and a pervasive role for the state in proceedings. Over time the Romans used a series of different procedures (successively, trial before the assemblies, by specialized juries, or by imperial inquisitors) to try most of their offences that would be more or less recognizably criminal today. Substantively, the core of this group were offences against the state in an institutional sense (e.g., sedition, electoral malpractice, abuse of public office, forgery). Over time it also came to include an increasing number of (personal) crimes of violence. Some core modern criminal offences such as forms of theft and forgery of private documents came to be grouped in with these only at a very late date and incompletely. “Moral” offences that are treated as criminal more sporadically today (e.g., use of intoxicants, gambling, prostitution) were not criminalized. Penalties in earlier periods included fines, civic disgrace, and exile; later periods introduced finer differentiation of penalties, as well as execution. Imprisonment was not a formal penalty.
Roman criminal law had a deeper and more complicated relationship to politics than did the private, civil law. This is true both in the sense that the jurists were relatively uninterested in the criminal law, especially before the late 2nd century
George Ronald Watson and Andrew Lintott
In Roman public law, cura(tio) means the responsibility for a particular area of public administration, normally inhering in a magistrate. *Cicero, in his description of the ideal (Roman) Republic, makes the aediles curatores of the city, the food supply, and the traditional games (Leg. 3.7). (He avoids the term for the other magistrates, probably for literary reasons.) In 3.10 he stipulates, in his affected pseudo-archaic language, that if anything outside the sphere of the magistracies needs to be attended to (coerari oesus est), the People shall elect a man to administer it (qui coeret) and give him the power to do so.
It is clear that this way of attending to business not within the sphere of any magistrate was a fairly late development, probably because of the Roman distrust of conferring special powers on one man, which was overcome only when the Republic was beginning to break down.
T. Corey Brennan
Arnaldo Momigliano and Antony Spawforth
Arnold Hugh Martin Jones and Antony Spawforth
Decaproti (δεκάπρωτοι) first appear in 66
A. N. Sherwin-White
A. N. Sherwin-White, Arnold Hugh Martin Jones, and Tony Honoré
Decuriones were the councillors who ran Roman local government in both colonies and municipalities (see
Originally, persons who have made a deditio in fidem, an unconditional surrender, to Rome; the normal consequence in the case of a whole community was that Rome regulated their status, usually by restoring them to their position before their surrender. The lex Aelia Sentia of