PANEL: Criminal Law in Italy, Ancient and Medieval
Friday, October 19, 2000, 8:45-10:15
Chair: Bruce Frier, Department of Classics
University of Michigan
When Did the Romans Invent Homicide?
This paper addresses the question, a matter of on-going controversy, of when the Romans developed a OcriminalO (literally OpublicO) offense of (intentional) homicide. In the earliest known law, most killings gave rise to private actions by the deceasedOs family. Only special circumstances (e.g. killing a relative, poisoning, organized crime) gave rise to public prosecutions. In the classical period (II/III A.D.), by contrast, all homicides were treated together as public offenses. When and hoe did the transition came about? While it is necessary to reconsider the internal history of the laws involved, I argue that we must also make refernce to larger issues concerning uses of violence and the role of the public courts.
Procedural adjustments (unification of jurisdiction of the poisoning and organized crime courts; uniform penalties for at least the previously existing offenses) suggest a generalization of the notion of homicide in the late second or early first century B.C. A potential counter-argument about whether killing of slaves was covered may be rejected.
The criminalization of homicide at this period was contemporaneous with growing restrictions on the use and means of violence, both in private and public law. In particular, the Roman state increasingly tried to claim a Weberian monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Any homicide became an offense not just against the victim, but against the community as a whole. This, it can be shown, was the mark of the offenses subject to public jurisdiction. Hence, the coverage of all homicides under this procedure.
Criminal Law in Medieval Bologna: A Lasting Pattern
Medieval Bologna, famous for its prestigious law schools, was also a pace setter in the development of criminal law. In the records of thirteenth-century Bolognese law courts and through the city's statutes one can trace and analyze the establishment of criminal law practices that were to prevail for centuries. One also learns the extent to which the laws were enforced and gains an insight into the social needs those laws succeeded or failed to meet.
Comment: Laura Stern, Department of History
University of North Texas
ere less exotic and more "western"