Murder Was Not a Crime: Homicide and Power in the Roman Republic

Murder Was Not a Crime: Homicide and Power in the Roman Republic

by Judy E. Gaughan

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Embarking on a unique study of Roman criminal lay, Judy Gaughan has developed a novel understanding of the nature of social and political power dynamics in republican government. Revealing the significant relationship between political power and attitudes toward homicide in the Roman republic, Murder Was Not a Crime describes a legal system through which families (rather than the government) were given the power to mete out punishment for murder.

With implications that could modify the most fundamental beliefs about the Roman republic, Gaughan's research maintains that Roman criminal law did not contain a specific enactment against murder, although it had done so prior to the overthrow of the monarchy. While kings felt an imperative to hold monopoly over the power to kill, Gaughan argues, the republic phase ushered in a form of decentralized government that did not see itself as vulnerable to challenge by an act of murder. And the power possessed by individual families ensured that the government would not attain the responsibility for punishing homicidal violence.

Drawing on surviving Roman laws and literary sources, Murder Was Not a Crime also explores the dictator Sulla's "murder law," arguing that it lacked any government concept of murder and was instead simply a collection of earlier statues repressing poisoning, arson, and the carrying of weapons. Reinterpreting a spectrum of scenarios, Gaughan makes new distinctions between the paternal head of household and his power over life and death, versus the power of consuls and praetors to command and kill.

The first comprehensive investigation of the relationship between homicide and the nature of power in the republic,Murder Was Not a Crime sheds new light on the fluctuating philosophies that shaped Roman Political culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292779921
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Series: Ashley and Peter Larkin Series in Greek and Roman Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 780 KB

About the Author

JUDY E. GAUGHAN is Assistant Professor of History at Colorado State University.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations ix

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction 1

1 Killing and the King 9

2 Power of Life and Death Pater Res Publica 23

3 Killing and The Law, 509-450 B.C.E. 53

4 Murder was not a Crime, 449-81 B.C.E. 67

5 Capital Jurisdiction, 449-81 B.C.E. 90

6 License to Kill 109

7 Centralization of Power and Sullan Ambiguity 126

Epilogue 141

Notes 143

Bibliography 181

Index 191

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