Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 March 2020
The chapter examines the broad contours of violence in the Roman world, from the private, personal plane of violence in social relations (where self-help was the order of the day) to criminality and the law, to the ideological underpinnings of applying violence to those perceived as threats to the community. Various facets of the Romans’ socio-political landscape had an impact on how they viewed and practised violence. Romans had an ideology of dominance inherent in empire. They accepted the brutalities of mass slavery, a hierarchical social system that ranked people according to group membership and assigned personal worth (or lack of it) based on that membership. Violence reflected and enforced these systems. What emerges is a picture of a world where violence was, in no small measure, the language of rank and status.