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Banishment in Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

J.M.W. Turner, Ovid Banished From Rome
J.M.W. Turner, Owidiusz wypędzony z Rzymu

Banishment was commonly used in ancient Rome. One of its variations was the punishment interdicere aquae et ignis (“to prohibit fire and water”). The convict was forced to leave Roman lands and automatically lost his property to the state. If the exile returned he was still treated as an outlaw; had, among others forbidden to use fire and water, and could be killed without trial.

The principle interdicere aquae et ignis was originally applied by people’s tribunes, but it was legalized in Cato the Elder (234-149 BCE). The punishment was used by the Senate and government officials, and even by Julius Caesar during the Gallic Wars. The punishment was abandoned with the advent of the Empire.

  • Adolf Berger, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law, Tom 43

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