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Crime in Ancient Rome

Thieves and burglars. Adulterers. Counterfeiters and con men. Fugitive slaves and gladiators. Traitors. Pirates and bandits. When people think of the history of Ancient Rome, most are reminded of the genius of Vergil and Cicero, the grandiosity of the Pantheon and the Coliseum, or the magnificence of the mosaics and glyptics. But there was another, lesser-known and less glorious side to this civilization that lasted over 12 centuries, a side that was different, yet equally – or even more – characteristic of the empire. Crime and the underworld were integral parts of Roman society, and attempts at controlling them still influence modern judicial thought and legal systems, even though Roman law is no longer in effect. But what kind of crimes did senators commit, and what illegal activities were street kids involved in? You will find the answers in this feature.

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