By Steven H. Rutledge
Delatores (political informants) and accusatores (malicious prosecutors) have been a huge a part of existence in imperial Rome. modern resources depict them as merciless and heartless mercenaries, who bore the most accountability for institutionalizing and imposing the tyranny of the notorious rulers of the early empire, reminiscent of Nero, Caligula, and Domitian. Steven Rutledge's research examines the facts and asks if this can be a reasonable portrayal.
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Extra resources for Imperial Inquisitions
Tac. Ann. 1 Novi Homines (“New Men”) as Delatores* Accusator/Delator Abudius Ruso Ancharius Priscus C. ] Ti. Catius Silius Italicus Cervarius Proculus C. Cestius Gallus Cestius Severus T. Clodius Eprius Marcellus Considius (L. ) Cossutianus Capito Cn. Domitius Afer Fabius Romanus A. ] Junius Lupus Junius Otho L. ) Latiaris Mettius Carus Nonius Attianus M. Opsius Ostorius Sabinus C. Paccius Africanus Petillius Rufus L. Pinarius Natta M. Plancius Varus M. ] M. ) Sextius Paconianus P. ] Q. ) Vibius Serenus L.
There was no conscious “class” sentiment among delatores; that impression is rather one left to us by our sources. 9 Tacitus and Pliny, however, stand (for us) at the end of a long tradition of advancement through oratory. 10 That prejudice was deeply ingrained in Roman society, the result of a highly stratified social hierarchy which encouraged conflict between the humiliores and honestiores, and was long-standing, abiding before and after our period. Indeed, as was the case with the Sullan proscriptions (see Appendix 4), the leaders of the second triumvirate were able to exploit this underlying class antagonism.
Antistius Vetus, the consul of 55) who accused his patron in 65. Tacitus assails Fortunatus’ treachery; in this particular instance, Tacitus no doubt found particularly offensive the very public nature of the social clout Fortunatus earned for what Tacitus sees as his betrayal, to wit, a place in the theater among the official attendants of the tribunes (inter viatores tribunicios, Ann. 2). We should be skeptical of Tacitus’ rhetoric in this instance. 44 What Minucius Thermus’ offense was, on the other hand, which led an anonymous freedman belonging to Minucius to denounce him to Tigellinus, Nero’s praetorian praefect, is unknown – but it led to Minucius’ demise (Tac.