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The Roman term for all acts whereby an individual within the State showed himself an enemy, perduellis, of the established constitution. It included attempts at despotic power, usurpation or abuse of magisterial powers (e.g. the execution of a citizen), violation of the sanctity of the tribuni plebis, etc. In the time of the kings, the king himself tried crimes of the kind, or handed over the decision to two deputies appointed in each instance by himself, duo viri capitales or perduellionis, from whom an appeal lay to the people; after Servius Tullius, to the comitia centuriata. Under the Republic duo viriwere still appointed as presiding judges, till this gradually fell into disuse, and trials of the kind came in general to be dealt with by the popular court. In earlier times the penalty was death by hanging on a tree, by throwing from the Tarpeian Rock, or by beheading; later, banishment, and after the tribunes brought cases of perduelliobefore the omitia tributa, fines as well. From the latter half of the 2nd century B.C. the less important cases began to be treated as offences of maiestas; and by Caesar's Julian law, 46 B.C., all cases of perduellio were included under this name. (See also MAIESTAS.)
Type: Standard
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