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 p680  Leno, Lenocinium

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp680‑681 of

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

LENO, LENOCI′NIUM. Lenocinium is defined by Ulpian (Dig. 3 tit. 2 s4) to be the keeping of female slaves for prostitution and the profits of it; and it was also lenocinium if gain was made in the like way by means of free women. Some lenones kept brothels (lupanaria) or open houses for prostitution. This trade was not forbidden, but the praetor's edict attached infamia to such persons [Infamia]. In the time of Caligula (Sueton. Cal. 40, and the notes in Burmann's ed.), a tax was laid on lenones. Theodosius and Valentinian endeavoured to prevent parents from prostituting their children and masters their female salves by severe penalties; and they forbad the practice of lenocinium under pain of corporal punishment, and banishment from the city, and so forth. Justinian (Nov. 14) also attempted to put down all lenocinium by banishing lenones from the city, and by making the owners of houses, who allowed prostitution to be carried on in them, liable to forfeit the houses and to pay ten pounds of gold; those who by trickery or force got girls into their possession and gave them up to prostitution were punished with the "extreme penalties;" but it is not said what these extreme penalties were. This Novella contains curious matter.

The Lex Julia de Adulteriis defined the lenocinium which that lex prohibited (Dig. 48 tit. 5  p681 s2 § 2). It was lenocinium, if a husband allowed his wife to commit adultery in order to share the gain. The legislation of Justinian (Nov. 117 c9 § 3) allowed a wife a divorce, if her husband had attempted to make her prostitute herself; and the woman could recover the dos and the donatio propter nuptias. It was lenocinium in the husband if he kept or took back (cf. Sueton. Domit. 8) a wife whom he had detected in an act of adultery; or if he let the adulterer who was detected in the act, escape; or if he did not prosecute him.

With respect to other persons than the husband, it was lenocinium by the lex Julia, if a man married a woman who was condemned for adultery; if a person who had detected others in adultery, held his peace for a sum of money; if a man commenced a prosecution for adultery and discontinued it; and if a person lent his house or chamber for adulterium or stuprum. In all these cases, the penalty of the lex Julia was the same as for adulterium and stuprum. The lex in this as in other like instances of leges, was the groundwork of all subsequent legislation on lenocinium. Probably no part of the lex Julia de adulteriis was formally repealed, but it received additions, and the penalties were increased (Rein Criminalrecht der Römer, p883). As to the uses of the words Leno, Lenocinium, in the classical writers, see the passages cited in Facciolati, Lex.

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Page updated: 14 Feb 20