Abstract This article provides a thorough analysis of two Roman institutions: the vitae necisque potestas and the regulation of parricidium . Moving from the traditional interpretations of these institutions, connected to a supposedly very high degree of violence inside Roman families, the article demonstrates that they were no relicts of an “archaic” society, but a specific historical formation, connected with the “cultural revolution” of the third and second centuries BCE. In particular, this article shows that both the power of the pater familias to kill his relatives (which was not as absolute as often assumed) and the special position taken by the murder of relatives in the Roman juridical system and mentality, must be read against the background of the negotiation between the central institutions of the Republic and the autonomy sphere of the gentes .
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: Jun 7, 2017