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p388 Delator

unsigned article on pp388‑389 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

DELATOR, an informer. The delatores, under the emperors, were a class of men who gained their livelihood by informing against their fellow-citizens (Suet. Tib. 61, Dom. 12; Tacit. Ann. IV.30, VI.47). They constantly brought forward false charges to gratify the avarice or jealousy of the different emperors, and were consequently paid according to the importance of the information which they gave. In some cases, however, the law specified the sums which were to be given to the informers. Thus, when a murder had been committed in a family, and any of the slaves belonging to it had run away before the quaestio, whoever apprehended such slaves received, for each slave whom he apprehended, a reward of five aurei from the property of the deceased, or else from the state, if the sum could p389not be raised from the property of the deceased (Dig. 29 tit. 5 s25). In the senatus consultum quoted by Frontinus (de Aquaed.), the informer received half of the penalty which the person was fined who transgressed the decree of the senate. There seems also to have been a fixed sum given the informers by the lex Papia, since we are told that Nero reduced it to a fourth (Suet. Ner. 10).

The number of informers, however, increased so rapidly under the early emperors, and occasioned so much mischief in society, that many of them were frequently banished, and punished in other ways, by various emperors (Suet. Tit. 8, Dom. 9; Mart. I.4; Plin. Paneg. 34; Brissonius, Ant. Select. III.17).


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