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Beyond DogmaticsLaw and Society in the Roman World$
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John W. Cairns and Paul J. du Plessis

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748627936

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627936.001.0001

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The Role of Delators

The Role of Delators

Chapter:
(p.206) 11 The Role of Delators
Source:
Beyond Dogmatics
Author(s):

O F Robinson

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627936.003.0037

This chapter focuses on the delatores, who were a vivid part of the image of imperial Rome. The picture is of low-born men, who had contrived to rise in the world through the rewards of their informing, pandering to the fears of imperial tyrants with unjustified accusations of treason, thus putting at risk the lives and estates of those honourable senators who scorned sycophancy; the implications are of calumny and greed. These men — accusers, informers — fall into the interesting area where law and history touch, and the word identifying them has even been accepted into the vernacular — delators, délateurs, delatori. But how far is the image true, and in what way? Tacitus is the chief foundation of our universal picture, but there is room to question both the reality and the context of what he says.

Keywords:   delators, Tacitus, Roman Empire

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