Chapter

An Urgent Summons and a Terrible Charge

Andrew Pettinger

in The Republic in Danger

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199601745
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741524 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601745.003.0002

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This chapter provides a brief narrative of Drusus Libo’s trial in the senate, and then explores the significance of senatorial investigations during the early Principate. It is established that Drusus Libo was accused of having planned revolution. This argument falls into two parts. The first part shows that, by calling an emergency meeting of the senate, the consuls took Drusus Libo to be an immediate threat. The second part establishes that Drusus Libo was not, as is commonly held, accused of a criminal fascination with the occult, but rather of intending to cause revolution. He was charged with treason (maiestas). The law regarding astrology and magic is misunderstood. Consulting an astrologer or magician about the health of the Princeps was not, as is supposed, prima facie treason during the early Principate.

Keywords: senatorial investigation; revolution; senate; consuls; maiestas; astrology; law

Chapter.  9608 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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