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In ancient Rome, proscriptions were used

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Gaius Octavian firing proscription letters, Rene Francis
Gaius Octavian firing proscription letters, Rene Francis

Proscriptions (proscriptio) in Roman law consisted in entering into the list of outlaws – political opponents and, consequently, their property and sentencing to exile. The children and grandchildren of the proscribed person were marked by infamy, that is, shame.

Large prizes were also awarded for the handing over or killing of hiding proscribed. In return, the slaves were even promised freedom. Proscriptions were used on a mass scale, especially in the 1st century BCE and during the civil wars. During such proscriptions, among others, Cicero and many old Roman families disappeared.

In ancient Rome, during the civil wars in the 1st century BCE, it was common to use the so-called proscription. They were aimed at depriving citizens of civil rights and confiscating the property of those who oppose the rulers. The names of the citizens subjected to proscription were placed on stone tablets in public places. The murder of a person from the list was awarded a cash prize (during the II triumvirate it was two talents). Proscriptions initially meant the sale of the debtor’s goods by auction, then this was the term used to describe sentences for the confiscation of property and exile.

He introduced Sulla as a bloody tool of political warfare on a massive scale in 83 BCE. The persecution affected nearly three thousand of the dictator’s political opponents. In 43 BCE members of the 2nd Triumvirate Marcus Antony, Octavian and Lepidus re-announced the proscription letters (tabulae proscriptionis).

  • George Mousourakis, A Legal History of Rome

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