Proscription – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’ve been watching the new HBO series, Rome, which has encouraged me to revisit and brush up on my old Classical Studies notes. For some reason, I’d always been a bit fuzzy on the concept of proscription, but of course Wikipedia rectifies my confusion (and gives me some ideas for when my eventual bid for power is secured)

The first proscription par excellence took place in 82 BC, when Lucius Cornelius Sulla was appointed dictator rei publicae constituendae (“Dictator for the Constitution of the Republic”). Sulla proceeded to draw up a list of those he considered enemies of the state and published the list in the Roman Forum. Any man whose name appeared on the list was ipso facto stripped of his citizenship and excluded from all protection under law; reward money was given to any informer who gave information leading to the death of a proscribed man and any person who killed a proscribed man was entitled to keep part of his estate (the remainder went to the state). No person could inherit money or property from the proscribed men, nor could any woman married to a proscribed man remarry after his death. Many victims of proscription were decapitated and their heads were displayed on spears in the Forum.

Sulla used proscription to restore the depleted Roman Treasury (Aerarium), which had been drained by costly civil and foreign wars in the preceding decade, and to eliminate enemies (both real and potential) of his reformed state and constitutions.

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