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You Shall Not Kill. Hierarchies of Norms in Ancient Rome1

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Different kinds of norms regulate the problem of killing in Rome, custom and law being the most important of them. This survey is extended by an analysis of the exceptions to the general ban on killing: capital punishment, killing in sacred contexts and in war. Religion plays a specific legitimizing role in offering models of killing as well as in enciphering hierarchic structures of the Roman society. Stories like the one of the Horatii (Dion. H. 3,12-22) offer an insight into the processes of legitimization and their changing patterns. Furthermore, exempla literature is an important instrument of reflecting-and teaching-the solution of conflicts of norms by narrative hierarchization.

Affiliations: 1: Universität Tübingen Abteilung für Religionswissenschaft Reutlinger Str. 2 D-7400 Tübingen


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