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Form: from repetundae pecuniae, "money which is ordered to be restored".

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The name given by the Romans to the charge brought against officials for extorting money from Roman subjects or allies. Such charges were at first brought before the Senate, which heard the case itself, or else passed it on to a commission, or, again, caused it to be brought before the comitia by the tribunes. At last, in 149 B.C., a standing court of justice (See QUAeSTIO perpetua), in fact, the first in Rome, was instituted by the Lex Calpurnia, containing more precise definitions of acts liable to punishment, with forms of legal procedure, and determining the amount of the penalty. The increasing inclination of the officials to use the administration of the provinces as means of enriching themselves at the expense of the provincials led to repeated legislation with a view to increasing the penalty. The last law on the subject was Caesar's Lex Iulia, which was the basis of the procedure in such cases under the Empire. During that period, in consequence of the improved condition of provincial government, extortion on the part of officials became much rarer. Such extortion was generally punished by having to pay four times the amount extorted it was also attended with a certain degree of disgrace (infamia), even if a still more severe punishment were not added for other offences committed at the same time and (as usual) included in the indictment (e.g. the offence of laesa maiestas).
Type: Standard
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