Law and Order in Ancient Times

DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
edited June 2019 in General Discussion Posts: 14,947
I want to say first of all that the idea for creating this thread came from our beloved @Thunderpussy in a post he made on my Legal Issues (and Criminal Justice) Thread a while ago (the one over on the AJB007 forum). Perhaps we could be considered as co-creators and guardians of this particular thread. He posted the following there:

Ancient law :
In ancient Rome a rapist would have his testicles crushed between two heavy marble slabs !
......... Seems sensible to me, they should reintroduce that. -{


I replied:

Yes, and I recall that the villain General Brutus 'Brute' Clay (in his plannUS fascist takeover of the United States) called for the cutting off the the offending organ for the rapist too (presciently rather like Sharia law in a way) in John Gardner's last James Bond continuation novel Cold/Cold Fall (1996). That's probably why he was named Brutus then. :D

So this exchange really got me thinking about law and order in more Ancient times - such as Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt. Thus, I have created this topic to collate together in one thread a place where we can freely discuss Law and Order in Times Past.

Of coumrse Roman Law (the basis of civil law in many countries, though the UK and US are common law legal systems) is still studied on un iversity Law courses. That said, I didn't myself study it on my Masters Law conversion course.

Hopefully it will be an interesting, illuminating, educational and amusing thread in equal measure! :) :)

Comments

  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,604
    In the ancient criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.
    In Rome, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories. Dun Dun!

    Have fun making your own Law and Order moments with this button:

    https://www.myinstants.com/instant/law-
    and-order-dun-dun/

    Unfortunately, that's all I've got.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited April 2016 Posts: 14,947
    In the ancient criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.
    In Rome, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories. Dun Dun!

    Have fun making your own Law and Order moments with this button:

    https://www.myinstants.com/instant/law-
    and-order-dun-dun/

    Unfortunately, that's all I've got.

    Ah! I see what you did there, @PropertyOfALady! :))
  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,604
    I'm sorry. Couldn't resist. The bit of testicle ball smashing though that you posted had me going :O
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,947
    Yes, it really got me thinking about this perhaps arcane subject. I guess it was the aspiring lawyer in me that made me want to create a thread about this subject.
  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,604
    Lawyer away! So, I guess Le Chiffre would be right at home in those days.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,947
    Lawyer away! So, I guess Le Chiffre would be right at home in those days.

    Yes, he'd probably be Chief Justice! :))
  • Posts: 4,834
    Well, I saw documentary once about a case Cicero was involved in. Learned something interesting : When a lawyer lost a case, either for the prosecution or the defense (and there was jury trials in those days), he was branded on the forehead with the letter K (for Kalumniator). Here it is :

  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,947
    Thanks for that, @Gerard!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    These are " Sensible policies for a sensible Britain !" :)
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited April 2016 Posts: 14,947
    OK, to get things slowly moving again here is a transcript of an interview discussing Policing in Ancient Times:

    Policing in Ancient Times

    June 11, 200512:00 AM ET
    Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday
    Weekend Edition classics commentator Elaine Fantham talks about law and order in ancient Rome and Greece.


    SCOTT SIMON, host:

    The ancient world had its version of the Manhattan Project, too. Dionysius the Elder headed a team whose research aided the Greeks in creating more powerful ships and the first catapults. What about security within the boundaries of Greece and Rome? How is law and order enforced at home? WEEKEND EDITION's classics commentator Elaine Fantham joins us from the studios of the CBC in Toronto.

    Elaine, thanks for being with us again.

    ELAINE FANTHAM:

    Hello, Scott.

    SIMON: And how was the ancient world policed?

    FANTHAM: Well, of course there isn't one answer. In fact, I love to start with the Athenians because it seems that what we would call police work--that is to say, arresting someone who was committing some sort of public offense--was done by Scythian archers, barbarian foreigners with a weapon which was totally inappropriate to arresting people in Athenian streets. Maybe they were called archers because Scythians were good at being archers, but they weren't necessarily walking up and down the Agora in Athens with bows and arrows.

    At any rate, it's a most extraordinary thing that the Athenians should have entrusted the street policing to foreigners whom they didn't particularly respect, and that Athenians, who were so proud of their liberty, would allow themselves to be arrested by these foreigners.

    And if we switch to Rome, where we do know a little bit more, we don't actually have a police system or anything like it until the Emperor Augustus.

    SIMON: What would be a jailable offense in those days?

    FANTHAM: Jailable is actually begging the question. In the ancient world, they had a shortage of long-term prisons. And so people were actually very seldom jailed. They tended to be jailed only temporarily if they were caught in some violence and were being held until they came up for a trial. Well, I'm thinking of the usual assault and battery, I suppose. But there are other kinds of offense, of course. If you were a fish monger in the Athenian fish market, you might be using false weights or selling stale fish as fresh.

    SIMON: Were jails in short supply because not many people were being sent there, or did they come up with alternative sentencing that wasn't jail?

    FANTHAM: I don't think they thought of sending people to jail as a way to deal with their offenses. There were two variables here. One was the kind of offense, and the other was the social significance of the person. People who counted were punished by loss of their citizen status and exiled, never executed. They wouldn't have been jailed--the law codes don't have six months for this offense and two years for that offense. If you needed to keep somebody in custody because you thought they might escape trial, there were lockups, short-term jails.

    SIMON: Did--forgive me this, Elaine. But did anyone have the opportunity to say, `If the toga don't fit, you must acquit'?

    FANTHAM: Cicero was as near to Johnnie Cochran as we came.

    (Soundbite of laughter)

    FANTHAM: I was thinking of this because during the republic at any rate, we don't have anything as lurid as the ongoing trial of Michael Jackson, for instance. We do in the empire begin to get figures like that, but they don't get put on trial for their activities.

    SIMON: If this isn't indelicate, perhaps what Mr. Jackson's been accused of doing was considered legal then.

    FANTHAM: I don't think they cared. The basic Roman rule was that so long as the person whom you took advantage of sexually was not a respectable Roman boy or young woman or wife...

    SIMON: Yeah.

    FANTHAM: ...you could do what you liked. So, you know, there were always lots of people who either technically weren't respectable, because they were actors and they were not protected, or they were not citizens because they were foreigners and they were not protected. There were plenty of people who could satisfy any unusual sexual interests.

    SIMON: Thank you, Elaine.

    FANTHAM: Right-o, Scott.

    SIMON: Elaine Fantham, our classics commentator here on WEEKEND EDITION and professor emerita of classics at Princeton University, joining us from Toronto.

    Link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4699475
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