“Like a thief in the night”: Self-help, Magisterial Authority, and Civilian Policing

Christopher J. Fuhrmann

in Policing the Roman Empire

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199737840
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199928576 | DOI:
“Like a thief in the night”: Self-help, Magisterial Authority, and Civilian Policing

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This chapter considers the diversity of policing and public order measures in the many areas of the Roman Empire that did not have soldier-police, including religion as social control, self-help, private security, posses, town watches and magistrates, magistrates’ attendants (apparitores), market officials, public slaves, and civilian police forces. Asia Minor and Egypt had particularly well developed civil police forces. In the provinces of Asia Minor, eirenarchs, paraphylakes, and diôgmitae policed the territory of many cities. Roman Egypt had a multiplicity of civil police, which can be roughly divided between several types of guards (their ranks largely filled by public-service liturgies), and police officers (e.g. archephodoi) who arrested criminals and summoned suspects (sometimes acting on so-called “orders to arrest” or summonses issued by higher authorities). Local conflicts and limited jurisdiction created space for Roman involvement in public order, and the growth of military policing.

Keywords: Self-help; magistrates; apparitores; public slaves; Asia Minor; eirenarchs; paraphylakes; diôgmitae; Roman Egypt; public services (liturgies)

Chapter.  20114 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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