This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Piso’s justice

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Centurion with a stick
Centurion with a stick

Seneca the Younger mentions an interesting story of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, the Roman governor of Syria and Roman politics (44 BCE – 20 CE) who was to get angry when he heard that only one of the two soldiers returned from a leave of absence.

Piso was furious and sentenced the legionary (who returned to the camp) to death, claiming that he did not produce his companion, therefore he probably killed him. When a soldier, accused of murder, was presenting his neck to the executioner’s sword, the lost comrade suddenly returned. The centurion supervising the execution ordered to interrupt and he decided to send the accused soldier to Piso, hoping that he would be pardoned.

To everyone’s surprise, Piso sentenced three Romans to death: a soldier who had been sentenced to death, because the sentence had already been given; a centurion overseeing the verdict, because he did not fulfill his duties; and a missing man who was an caused the deaths of two innocent people.

The famous phrase comes from this story: Fiat justitia ruat caelum! (“Let justice be done though the heavens fall”) and “Piso’s justice” – which can be understood as issuing a sentence in accordance with the law, but against morality.

  • Seneca the Younger, De Ira, I.XVIII, 3-5

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: