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Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p3 of

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

p1209 VIS. Leges were passed at Rome for the purpose of preventing acts of violence. The Lex Plotia or Plautia was enacted against those who occupied public places and carried arms (Cic. ad Att. II.24, de Harusp. Respons. 8; the Dissertation of Waechter, Neues Archiv. des Criminalrechts, vol. XIII reprinted in Orellii Onomasticon). The Lex proposed by the consul Q. Catulus on this subject, with the assistance of Plautius the tribunus, appears to be the Lex Plotia (Cic. pro Coel. 29; Sallust. in Cic. Declam.). There was a Lex Julia of the dictator Caesar on this subject, which imposed the penalty of aquae et ignis interdictio (Cic. Philip. I.9). Two Juliae Leges were passed as to this matter in the time of Augustus, which were respectively entitled De Vi Publica, and De Vi Privata (Dig. 48 tit. 6, 7). The Lex de Vi Publica did not apply, as the title might seem to import, exclusively to acts against the public peace, and it is not possible to describe it very accurately except by enumerating its chief provisions. The collecting of arms (arma, tela) in a house (domus), or in a villa (agrove in villa), except for the purpose of hunting, or going on a journey or a voyage, was in itself a violation of the Lex. The signification of the word tela in this Lex was very extensive. The punishment for the violation of this Lex was aquae et ignis interdictio, except in the case of attacking and plundering houses or villas with an armed band, in which case the punishment was death; and the penalty was the same for carrying off a woman, married or unmarried. The cases enumerated in the Digest, as falling within the penalties of the Lex Julia de Vi Privata, are cases where the act was of less atrocity; for instance, if a man got a number of men together for a riot, which ended in the beating of a person, but not in his death, he came within the penalties of the Lex de Vi Privata. It was also a case of Vis Privata, when persons combined to prevent another being brought before the praetor. The Senatusconsultum Volusianum extended the penalties of the Lex to those who maintained another in his suit, with the view of sharing any advantage that might result from it. The penalties of this Lex were the loss of a third part of the offender's property; and he was also declared to be incapable of being a Senator or a Decurio, or a Judex: by a Senatusconsultum, the name of which is not given, he was incapacitated from enjoying any honour, quasi infamis. (This matter is discussed at length by Rein, Das Criminalrecht der Römer, p732).


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