Crime and Punishment in the Ancient World

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How different people were treated?

  • How law and order affected you depends on your position in society.
  • Roman Brititan was also ran a patriarchal society, meaning that men were in control of his family.
  • Noble men were often sentences to death but were allowed to go into exile (loss of citizenship) instead.
  • Normal Citizens were fined, whipped, their property was confiscated and were made to become slaves for minor crimes but more serious crimes such as killing your father (patricide) were subject to death by a bag of snake, people would committed arson were burnt at the stake and if they robbed temples, they would be executed. 
  • Slaves were sentenced to numerous executions including; fighting a gladiator or crucifixtion. 
  • Legionnaires (army) were punished if someone ran away and 1 in 10 legionnaires were killed, this was called decimation. 
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Crimes in the Ancient Worlds

  • Theft was common because of the hierarchical society, jealousy 
  • Fighting at a chariot race was common and a problem because of the vast amount of people
  • Fires and Arson were problematic because the cities were overcrowded and many buildings were wooden 
  • Selling underweight bread and littering were minor crimes

Crimes were common because of the division between rich and poor.

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Trials in the Ancient World

All roman citizens were treated equally before the law, both the victim and the criminal had to be in court. However due to the lack of a police force the victim had to bring the criminal to court. 

It was unfair because educated richer nobles could pay lawyer, bribe judges or reduce their sentences by paying the courts. 

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Police in the Ancient World

There was no formal police force however in AD6 the Emperor Augustus set up forces to police Rome;

  • Vigiles (firemen) 
  • Urban Cohorts (army) who dealt with riots and violence
  • Praetorian Guards (the Emperor's personal bodyguard) 
  • Aediles (on the street policing) such as fined people for selling underweight bread or littering
  • Legionnaires (army) policed Britain and the Empire 

Wealthy people could have slaves as personal bodyguards.

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Key dates of the Ancient World

AD60 - Boudicca's rebellion 

AD450 - Twelve tables, first recorded book of laws

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