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 p637  Injuria

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp637‑638 of

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

INJU′RIA. Injuria, in the general sense, is opposed to Jus. In a special sense injuria was done by striking or beating a man either with the hand or with any thing; by abusive words (convicium); by the proscriptio bonorum, when the claimant knew that the alleged debtor was not really indebted to him, for the bonorum proscriptio was accompanied with infamia to the debtor (Cic. pro Quint. 6, 15, 16); by libellous writings or verses; by soliciting a mater familias or a praetextatus [Impubes]; and by various other acts. A man might sustain injuria either in his own person, or in the person of those who were in his power or in manu. No injuria could be done to a slave, but certain acts done to a slave were an injuria to his master, when the acts were such as appeared from their nature to be insulting to the master; as, for instance, if a man should flog another man's slave, the master had a remedy against the wrong-doer, which was given him by the praetor's formula. But in many other cases of a slave being maltreated, there was no regular formula by which the master could have a remedy, and it was not easy to obtain one from the praetor.

The Twelve Tables had various provisions on the subject of Injuria. Libellous songs or verses were followed by capital punishment, that is, death, as it appears (Cic. Rep. IV.10, and the notes in Mai's edition). In the case of a limb being mutilated the punishment was Talio (Festus, s.v. Talio). In the case of a broken bone, the penalty was 300 asses if the injury was done to a freedman, and 150 if it was done to a slave. In other cases the Tables fixed the penalty at 25 asses (Gellius, XVI.10, XX.1; Dirksen, Uebersicht, &c.).

These penalties which were considered sufficient at the time when they were fixed, were afterwards considered to be insufficient; and the injured person was allowed by the praetor to claim such damages as he thought he was entitled to, and the judex might give the full amount or less. But in the case of a very serious injury (atrox injuria), when the praetor required security for the defendant's appearance to be given in a particular sum, it was usual to claim such sum as the damages in the plaintiff's declaration, and though the judex  p638 was not bound to give damages to the amount, he seldom gave less. An injuria had the character of atrox, either from the act itself, or the place where it was done, as for instance, a theatre or forum, or from the condition of the person injured, as if he were a magistratus, or if he were a senator and the wrong-doer were a person of low condition.

Lex Cornelia specially provided for cases of pulsatio, verberatio, and forcible entry into a man's house (domus). The jurists who commented on this lex defined the legal meaning of pulsatio, verberatio, and domus (Dig. 47 tit. 10 s5).

The actions for Injuria were gradually much extended, and the praetor would, according to the circumstances of the case (causa cognita), give a person an action in respect of any act or conduct of another, which tended, in the judgment of the praetor, to do him injury in reputation or to wound his feelings (Dig. 47 tit. 10 s5, 22, 23, 24, &c.). Many cases of Injuria were subject to a special punishment (Dig. 47 11) as deportatio; and this proceeding extra ordinem was often adopted instead of the civil action. Various imperial constitutions affixed the punishment of death to libellous writings (famosi libelli). [Libelli.]

Infamia was a consequence of condemnation in an actio Injuriarum [Infamia.] He who brought such an action per calumniam was liable to be punished extra ordinem. (Gaius, III.220‑225; Hor. Sat. I.1.80; Dig. 47 10; Cod. Theod. IX. tit. 34; Cod. IX. tit. 36; Paulus, Sent. Recep. V. tit. 4; Rein, Das Criminalrecht der Römer, p35, &c.).

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Page updated: 7 Dec 06