Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality by Thomas Grunewald

By Thomas Grunewald

This wide-ranging and informative survey of 'outsider' teams within the Roman Empire will give a contribution tremendously to our realizing of Roman social background. studying males resembling as Viriatus, Tacfarinus, Maternus and Bulla Felix, who have been referred to as latrones after clashing with the imperial professionals, specified cognizance is given to might be the best-known 'bandit' of all, Spartacus, and to those that impersonated the emperor Nero after his dying. subject matters lined contain: * Whom did the Romans see as bandits (latrones)? * What did they comprehend as theft (lactrocinium)?* How urgent was once the chance that the bandits posed?* How did their contemporaries understand the risk? we're proven that the time period latrones was once not only used to consult criminals yet was once metaphorically and disparagingly utilized to failed political rebels, competitors and avengers. The notice additionally got here to symbolize the 'noble brigands', idealising the underdog as a method of criticising the profitable facet. the writer hence provides 'the bandit' as a literary build instead of a social kind.

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However, the likelihood of suffering this misfortune was high. For the people of the Empire, the bandit was probably not so much a physical threat as a psychological one, a symptom of anxiety. 123 According to Velleius Paterculus, in a passage already much cited here, thanks to the pax Augusta every inhabitant of the Roman Empire, even those in the most distant regions, needed no longer fear attack by bandits (metus latrociniorum). This was propaganda. 124 In the next chapter I discuss ‘figurative’ latrones, investigating various types and looking at the picture presented by Roman authors.

Similarly, herdsmen and bandits were more or less synonymous. 26 In the case of Viriatus, the bandit herdsman, it was the positive Romulus-style associations that soon predominated. 28 Other ‘bandits’ of the Roman period enjoyed a similar progression. 30 What distinguishes their careers are the opposing directions taken by each man – Viriatus towards good and Spartacus towards evil. The careers of Tacfarinas, Gannascus and Maternus also took the wrong turn. 31 The difference between them and Viriatus was that for them the status of latro was not the beginning of something better but rather the culmination of a criminal career.

Now the men of Egypt are, as a rule, somewhat swarthy and dark of complexion, and rather gloomy-looking, slender and hardy, excitable in all their movements, quarrelsome, and unwilling to take no for an answer. 106 However, prejudices like this, anchored so deeply in the (sub-)conscious, often have at least some justification. In the case of Egypt, this may have been the numerous disturbances and rebellions – justified or not and whatever their cause – for which the land on the Nile and, especially, its capital, Alexandria, became notorious under Roman rule.

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