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

By Thomas Grunewald

This wide-ranging and informative survey of 'outsider' teams within the Roman Empire will give a contribution tremendously to our figuring out of Roman social history.

Examining males akin to as Viriatus, Tacfarinus, Maternus and Bulla Felix, who have been referred to as latrones after clashing with the imperial gurus, unique consciousness is given to maybe the best-known 'bandit' of all, Spartacus, and to people who impersonated the emperor Nero after his loss of life. issues coated include:

* Whom did the Romans see as bandits (latrones)?
* What did they comprehend as theft (lactrocinium)?
* How urgent was once the danger that the bandits posed?
* How did their contemporaries understand the danger?

We are proven that the time period latrones was not only used to consult criminals yet was once metaphorically and disparagingly utilized to failed political rebels, opponents and avengers. The observe additionally got here to symbolize the 'noble brigands', idealising the underdog as a way of criticising the successful facet. the writer as a result offers 'the bandit' as a literary build instead of a social type.

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Example text

Insofar as this cross-section, obtained by random sampling, allows for generalisation, it would seem that crime, albeit exercised on a small scale, was a force that shaped the events of everyday life. The wide distribution of the material permits this conclusion to be applied to all periods and places of Roman history. Public authorities were unable either effectively to prevent crime or, as a matter of course, to successfully prosecute the wrongdoers. To simply ascribe this to an almost totally underdeveloped police service would be excessively anachronistic.

48 According to Juvenal, the best defence against highway robbery was simply to travel with empty pockets: When you go on a night journey, though you may have only a few small treasures with you you’ll take every stirring shadow, each moonlit reed for a sword or cudgel. 51 By these criteria, surely the ideal protector on a journey would have been Hadrian, who certainly travelled frequently with full pockets and with more than a dog to guard him. However, even he would not have been able to give a travelling companion the security that, according to Epictetus, might be expected of him and his peers.

About this time, the last generations of provincials who had been born before the Roman conquest, or who had at least inherited and maintained ideals of freedom and independence from the time of the occupation of their homelands died out. Furthermore, by the end of the first century ad Roman provincial rule had assumed a form which allowed it to become at least more tolerable to its subjects. With regard to geography, the type of native resistance examined here remained specific to the Roman West.

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