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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

Chapter 12 - Dying for Justice

from Part II - Imperial Infrastructure: Documents and Monuments


This chapter examines how different cultural and religious groups constructed narratives of Roman justice between the late first and late third century, and assesses the interactions and connections between these narratives. It focuses on three case studies: (i) the Acta Alexandrinorum, accounts of embassies and trial scenes between Alexandrian Greeks and emperors; (ii) Christian texts, chiefly the apocryphal acts featuring encounters between apostles and emperors and the martyr acts recounting trials before Roman governors; and (iii) Jewish literature, including 1 and 2 Maccabees, and rabbinic texts which include discussions of Roman justice. The narratives of justice created by Alexandrian Greeks, Christians, and Jews in the High Empire are united by the fact that they all rewrite the public transcript of Roman legal authority. These stories show evidence of cross-cultural interactions in both form and content, but this chapter argues that the ultimate purpose and agenda of the different narratives were specific to the community that produced them.

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