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New FrontiersLaw and Society in the Roman World$
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Paul J. du Plessis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748668175

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748668175.001.0001

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The Senatus Consultum Silanianum: Court Decisions and Judicial Severity in the Early Roman Empire

The Senatus Consultum Silanianum: Court Decisions and Judicial Severity in the Early Roman Empire

Chapter:
(p.51) Chapter 4 The Senatus Consultum Silanianum: Court Decisions and Judicial Severity in the Early Roman Empire
Source:
New Frontiers
Author(s):

Jill Harries

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748668175.003.0004

This chapter discusses the evolution of a resolution passed by the Roman Senate, the SC Silanianum (10 CE) on the interrogation and execution of household slaves “under the same roof” as a prematurely dead master and therefore implicated in his death. It shows how its development through further senatorial court decisions, imperial judgements and juristic interpretation was influenced by elite social attitudes towards slavery, and that legal protections, not only of slaves (minimal) but also of freedmen were overridden by decisions based on fear rather than due legal process. A further source of confusion was the imprecision of definitions of familia (household) and other terms used in the lost decree. Particular attention is paid to the intervention of the jurist Cassius Longinus in the decision to execute the slaves of a murdered senator in 61 CE as recorded by Tacitus; and to Pliny’s recording of a senatorial debate on the fates of the slaves and freedmen of a mysteriously dead senator in 105 CE.

Keywords:   Slavery, Roman Senate, Tacitus, Pliny, Cassius Longinus (jurist), Senatus Consultum Silanianum, Judicial severity

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