Why killing your father was a really bad idea.

Hello everyone! Sorry if I have dropped out of my blog for a long time, but I struggled with university and tutoring students who were crazier than me

But here I am tough! Today I am going to speak about the law Pompeia on patricide. In fact, paternal power during the Roman age was really strong; fathers at that time had a hold on their sons all the days of their lifes. They even could kill their children or sell them as slaves without being put under investigation. It was a patriarchal family indeed, in which the oldest man had the control all over the family. It is worth – highlighting that the latin word familia, from which comes family, included all the people in a house, including relatives, animals and slaves.
But why did fathers have this kind of power? Probably because, according to the legend, Romulus, who was the first king of Rome, wanted the future generations to be submissive to their fathers, who represented the king’s power in the city.
What did fathers have as a legal protection? The law Pompeia on patricide introduced a harsh punishment for those who were brave enough to kill their fathers. Infact, the murderer would have been put in a stitched sack made of leather, in which there would have been placed a rooster, a dog, a snake and, if possible, a monkey. Each of these animals represented a human attitude: roosters were believed to be ferocious, while dogs were defined “indicent” and “grim” by both Virgil and Horace; little snakes were believed to kill their mother while borning; monkeys instead were considered men’s parodies. In the end the sack would have been thrown in a river or in the sea.
It is interesting how the paternal power during the Roman age established a legal model that was followed for centuries, from the Middle Age to Napoleon, and nowadays still resist.


Fides: loyalty, devotion, faith, honesty

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to start a new topic, which will take a while. In fact I’m going to explain the Roman virtues, in order to show you how important they were in that society.

The Roman virtues were known as mos maiorum, ancestors’ manners, because they resulted from the first Romans’ way of life. At the beginning, they were handed down by word of mouth, thanks to religious ministers. According to some ancient writers, like Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the first two Roman kings started to write these manners creating laws. Later a lot of people, from writers to officials, from commanders to emperors, were insipired by the mos maiorum.

It’s a Latin word which means loyalty, devotion, faith and honesty. It is related with trusting in one’s word. The idea of good faith in legal studies comes from this Roman value. It is absolutely important because in the Roman age verbal agreements were very common. Romans could trust in one’s word and agree on a deal due to the fact that fides was one of the basic virtues of Roman society. The idea of fides was common not only in business, but also in everyday relationships: masters and slaves, patrons and clients, husband and wife.
There was also a temple in which people could worship the goddess Fides, which was built in Rome in 254 BC, close to the temple of Jupiter.
8767627366_c53c0182e1According to Romans’ opinion, the goddess lived in the right hand, which is the hand used for oaths and for concluding agreements. That’s why today we use that hand to take an oath on a civil or religious book while we are taking part in a trial.

The slavery in Rome (part 1)

Hello to everyone! First, I would like to beg off on my absence. I was studying in Vancouver and then when I came back to Italy I had an exam of International Law. But now it’s all alright and I am going to start writing on my blog again! Today I’m going to write about slavery. According to the Ancient Roman jurist Gaius, there are three kinds of tools: tools that do not speak nor move; tools that move but do not speak (animals); tools that move and speak (slaves). So, according to Romans’ opinion, slaves were only tools. As a consequence, slaves were sold and purchased like we buy clothes today. They were only “animated things”. But slaves were absolutely important for the Ancient Roman society and economy, as Ancient Roman laws dealt with this institution.209

After this introduction, let’s see how people could become slaves according to the Roman law. There were in fact some causes like:
– prisoners of war. People that were defeated in wars were taken as slaves owned by the State and then sold to the best bidders;
– indebtedness. When people couldn’t face their debts, they became assets owned by their creditors;
– crimes that carried the loss of personal freedom, like tax evasion or murders;
– people that couldn’t pay a pecuniary penalty;
– kidnapping by bandits or pirates;
– being sons or daughers of a mother who was slave herself;
– slaves who thought that their master was unfair could go on the Capitol Hill and explain their motivations;
– slaves had the right of asylum, if they took refuge in a temple. Anyway they could change master at most;
– if a citizen killed a slave, he/she didn’t have to face a criminal penalty, but only to pay a fine;
– according to the Lex Iulia, rape and adultery concerned only relationships between free people, not slaves;
– according to the Lex Petronia, the master couldn’t throw a slave to the wild beasts without a judgement;
– as a punishment, slaves were sold to schools of gladiators in order to fight in arenas;
– slaves could follow their original religious rituals;
– the Roman master who treated slaves rudely had a very bad reputation. According to the Roman culture, fathers had to be fair and generous with their families (which included also the slaves in that time);