Financial Penalties in the Roman Republic

A Study of Confiscations of Individual Property, Public Sales, and Fines (509–58 BC)


Private property in Rome effectively measures the suitability of each individual to serve in the army and to compete in the political arena. What happens then, when a Roman citizen is deprived of his property? Financial penalties played a crucial role in either discouraging or effectively punishing wrongdoers. This book offers the first coherent discussion of confiscations and fines in the Roman Republic by exploring the political, social, and economic impact of these punishments on private wealth.

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Sofia Piacentin, PhD (2017), King’s College London, is Research Fellow at the ERC project PATRIMONIVM at the Université Bordeaux Montaigne.
"Piacentin does an excellent job of gathering what information we have about financial penalties in the Republic, and she examines them thoroughly within their historical contexts. Her arguments are compelling, and they demonstrate that the use of financial penalties was more nuanced and complex than is generally assumed; there were different types of financial penalties that served different political purposes at different times.(...) Piacentin’s book is certain to become a standard reference on financial penalties because of her careful attention to detail, her gathering and analysis of evidence, and the breadth of the period it studies. Many chapters are accompanied by chronological tables that pull together events and references that will prove invaluable to future scholars working on the subject."
Fred K. Drogula in BMCR 2022.10.24
List of Figures and Tables

 1 Aims and Significance of This Work
 2 Sources, Methodology, and Outline of the Chapters

Part 1 Early Confiscations and Fines in the Roman Republic

1 Confiscation or Consecration of Property?
 1 P. Valerius Publicola
 2 Sp. Cassius and the leges sacratae
 3 The Decemvirate
 4 Sp. Maelius
 5 M. Manlius Capitolinus
 6 Vitruvius Vaccus
 7 Aspiring Tyrants and Tyrannicides
 8 Demolished Houses
 9 Conclusion

2 Fines and Roman Public Finances
 1 Aedilician Fines in the Literary Sources
 2 The Monumentality of Aedilician Fines
 3 Literary and Epigraphic Parallels
 4 The Politics of Curule and Plebeian Dedications
 5 Conclusion

3 Public Fines in Italy Outside Rome
 1 Distribution and Chronology
 2 The Variety of Objects and Contexts
 3 Sacred Context, Transhumance, and the Cult of Hercules
 4 Conclusion

Part 2 Quantifying Confiscations and Fines in Roman Republic

4 Confiscations of Property and Fines in the Military Sphere
 1 Military (and Civic) Disobedience
 2 Draft Dodging and Discharge of Soldiers
 3 Military Failures
 4 Conclusion

5 The Use of Financial Penalties in the Political Arena
 1 Between Political Opportunities and Religious Duties
 2 Fines for Misuse of Booty and Embezzlement (peculatus)
 3 Fines and Compensations for Extortion (res repetundae)
 4 Conclusion: Quantifying the Figures for Confiscations, Fines and Compensations

Part 3 The Outbreak of Violence

6 Confiscations of Property in Civil Conflicts
 1 Tiberius Gracchus: Tradition and Novelty in Punishment
 2 The Confiscation of the Property of C. Sempronius Gracchus, M. Fulvius Flaccus, and Their Supporters
 3 The Confiscation of the Property of L. Appuleius Saturninus and His Supporters
 4 Conclusion: Accusations of regnum, senatus consultum ultimum, and Confiscations

7 Confiscations of Property and the Declaration of hostes publici
 1 The hostis Declarations of 88 and 87 BC
 2 Conclusion: The Senatorial Debate over the Punishment of the Catilinarians

8 The Sullan Proscriptions: A Point of No Return?
 1 The Precedents
 2 Proscriptions and Confiscations: An Assessment
 3 Public Sales of Confiscated Property
 4 Targeting Wealth
 5 Proscriptions and the Land Market
 6 Family Strategies of Self-Preservation
 7 The Triumviral Proscriptions
 8 Conclusion

9 Disclosing Confiscations and Public Sales in the Late Republic: Cicero’s De domo sua
 1 De domo sua: Historical Context
 2 The Structure of the Speech
 3 Tribunician Consecrations of Property
 4 The Confiscation of the Property of Cicero
 5 The Auction of the Property of Cicero
 6 Conclusion

10 Conclusions

Scholars working in the field of ancient history, Roman law, epigraphy as well as a larger public interested in the legal and economic aspects of financial penalties and public sales in antiquity.
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