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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

During most of the Republic, the Romans viewed only perduellio as a threat to state security. Other threats were dealt with through institutionalised mechanisms of stability in Rome’s political structure, above all through the public lawmaking assemblies. Only when the political system wavered in the late Republic did the Romans criminalise “diminishing the superiority of the Roman people” maiestas populi Romani minuta (maiestas) as a crime against the state. Inherent in maiestas is the authority of the Roman people to negotiate consensus through the public lawmaking process in which the people voiced their commands. During the Empire, the emperor embodied the superiority of the Roman people and through him, as the chief lawmaker of Rome, were channelled the commands of the people. The scope of maiestas was altered to adapt to changing ideas of the state, but the idea that maiestas constituted the chief crime against the state persisted.

Keywords: maiestas, delatores (informants), Dig.48.4 ad legem Iuliam maiestatis, lex Appuleia maiestatis, lex Iulia maiestatis, perduellio, religious persecution, SC de Cn. Calpurnio Pisone patre, Ulpian

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