Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality by Thomas Grunewald

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By Thomas Grunewald

This wide-ranging and informative survey of 'outsider' teams within the Roman Empire will give a contribution significantly to our figuring out of Roman social heritage. analyzing males similar to as Viriatus, Tacfarinus, Maternus and Bulla Felix, who have been referred to as latrones after clashing with the imperial gurus, particular consciousness is given to might be the best-known 'bandit' of all, Spartacus, and to people who impersonated the emperor Nero after his demise. issues coated contain: * Whom did the Romans see as bandits (latrones)? * What did they comprehend as theft (lactrocinium)?* How urgent used to be the danger that the bandits posed?* How did their contemporaries understand the risk? we're proven that the time period latrones was once not only used to consult criminals yet used to be metaphorically and disparagingly utilized to failed political rebels, competitors and avengers. The notice additionally got here to symbolize the 'noble brigands', idealising the underdog as a method of criticising the profitable facet. the writer for this reason offers 'the bandit' as a literary build instead of a social kind.

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117 Looking again at the 19 cases in which the complainants could say precisely whom they suspected of having carried out the crimes, we find that 29 BANDITS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE 13 statements specify the occupations of the guilty parties. Among these, shepherds ( pastores/poimenai), mentioned nine times, form the largest group. Throughout the Roman Empire, and also particularly in Egypt, shepherds were notorious as ne’er-do-wells, implicated in both petty and serious crime. 119 The remaining references to the occupations of likely perpetrators name a builder, a gatekeeper of the village of Euhemeria and two brewers.

114 According to the depositions, crimes in Euhemeria were mostly committed leistrikoi tropoi, ‘bandit fashion’. This is a standard wording, frequently employed, that says nothing about the use of violence. As already explained, in Roman as in modern law the crime of robbery occurred only when removal of property not belonging to the perpetrator was accompanied by violence against the person. 115 The suspiciously frequent use of the phrase leistrikoi tropoi in Euhemeria therefore leads to the reasonable supposition that the usage was not always employed in a strictly juristic sense, but was sometimes applied ‘non-technically’, as an expression of outrage by the victim.

Mention has already been made of pigs, hay, olives, wheat, bread and oil. In addition, we have evidence for the theft of household goods, such as cups, bowls and baskets; tools, such as sickles, rakes and shovels; items of clothing, such as cloaks; and even basic or partially processed goods for the production of textiles, like wool and weaving threads. The 17 cases that fall under this heading concern consumer goods or objects that were needed for everyday use. In 14 cases mention is made of the theft of money or valuables, or both.

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