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Crime and Punishment in the Roman Empire

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Natalie Seale

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Crime and Punishment in the Roman Empire

Crime and Punishment in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire Perspective of Punishment The Romans had laws to cover every possible crime From the assassination of the emperor to polluting the streets and the Tiber River. Romans believed in deterring crime by harsh punishment Punishment in the Roman Empire Beating
Burying Alive
Retaliation Scourging with a Whip Knotted with bones or heavy pieces of metal.
Some had hooks on the ends Throwing one off of a high rock Tarpeian Rock Throwing into a River Regulated patricide Important for Romans, where the father held the ultimate authority, including the right to life and death for his entire family. Once convicted, immediately blindfolded as unworthy of light Taken to a field of Mars outside of Rome
Stripped of all possessions and clothes
Whipped with rods Sewed up in a culeus and thrown into the sea Overtime to add to the punishment, a serpent, ape, dog, or rooster was put in the sack. Common Forms of Crime:
Violent Crime
False Witness
Counterfeiting Exposure to Wild Beasts in the Arena Romans tried using a wide range of animals:
Black Panthers
Bulls Sometimes criminals were covered in animal skins Reserved for slaves, traitors, rebels, and deserters. Combined with gladiatorial combat Discrimination of Roman Punishment Punishment for Roman Citizens:
Death Romans could not be sentenced to death unless found guilty of treason. If sentenced to death, no Roman citizen could be sentenced to crucifixion. Strict punishment was generally only enforced on the criminals of the lower class Members of the senatorial and equestrian classes were generally exiled for a given time and their property confiscated. Plebeians were scourged or sent to work in the mines. Slaves No rights at all Treated like merchandise Because slaves cost money, their punishments did not inflict lasting damage. Lashed - most common form of punishment
Branded on the forehead
Forced to carry a furca (piece of wood) around their necks
When punished for capital offence, they were crucified. Law Enforcement and the Legal System Policing:
Praetorian Guard: protected the emperor
Urban Court: stopped riots
Vigils: prevented and put out fires, patrolled at night For crimes like burglary, citizens were expected to catch the criminal and bring him to a magistrate. The judge would then decide the case. For more serious crimes, a jury would decide guilt. Under Roman law, any citizen could bring a case to court. No crime investigation, therefore little crime solved. During the empire, if convicted of a crime, one could also choose to be sent to the arena.
Crucifixion Considered to be the most cruel and disgusting form of punishment. Undeniably effective, both in providing a slow and painful death and in creating a public display to warn others Reserved for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. Roman way of publicly removing the honor of the lowest criminals and labeling them as social deviants, deserving humiliation and abuse. Its purpose was only to provide a particularly painful, gruesome, and public death, using whatever means necessary. Method of execution, in which the victim was tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang there until dead The typical cause of death was asphyxiation. Roman executioners were said to break the victim's legs, after he had hung for some time, in order to hasten his death. Modern Connection Think how lucky Americans are to be protected by our constitution from "cruel and unusual punishment" Differences in the use of Prisons Roman Empire:
prisons were used to hold those awaiting trial or execution Today:
prisons are used as a form of punishment Differences in the Role of Lawyers Roman Empire:
The individual plaintiff and defendant were largely responsible for their own representation.
The lawyer could offer strategic advice, but was not allowed to be paid for his services.

The lawyer is responsible for representing the client in the court of law by producing enough evidence to support the case. Differences in Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty Roman Empire:
theft from temples
false witness
murder Today:
first-degree murder
perjury resulting in death
Today, the forms of the death penalty are milder than in the Roman Empire. Discrimination Based Off of Social Standing Blacks comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 41 percent of those on death row and 35 percent of those executed between 1977 and 2001 were black Between 1995 and 2000, almost three-fourths of the 183 federal defendants facing the death penalty were minorities
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