03 October, 2011

Proscription and Reasons of State

Proscription and Reasons of State

Posted: September 30, 2011, 1:41 pm - Last updated: September 30, 2011, 11:45 pm
View 694 Monday, September 26, 2011

In the old Roman Republic before the wars of Marius and Sulla it was considered sacrilege to put to death a Roman Citizen without trial. The Civil Wars changed that, and when one faction won it would publish lists of enemies who could be killed without trial or mercy if found within Roman jurisdiction. Most lists of proscription also carried rewards to those who found and executed the proscribed enemy of the people. Proscriptions also carried confiscation of property, and were used by Sulla to replenish the treasury.

After Sulla the practice was used by other factions. Julius Caesar refused to employ such a device on his election as Consul and elevation to dictatorship, but when Caesar was assassinated
Plutarch, Life of Cicero, 46.3-6:

3 The proscription of Cicero, however, caused most strife in their debates, Antony consenting to no terms unless Cicero should be the first man to be put to death, Lepidus siding with Antony, and [Octavius] Caesar holding out against them both. 4 They held secret meetings by themselves near the city of Bononia for three days, coming together in a place at some distance from the camps and surrounded by a river. 5 It is said that for the first two days Caesar kept up his struggle to save Cicero, but yielded on the third and gave him up. The terms of their mutual concessions were as follows. Caesar was to abandon Cicero, Lepidus his brother Paulus, and Antony Lucius Caesar, who was his uncle on the mother’s side.
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