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foedus


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Means a treaty, solemnly enacted, which established friendship, peace and alliance between Rome and another state in perpetuity. A foedus was distinct from indūtiae (‘truce’), which ended a state of war and lasted for an agreed number of years (up to a century). Treaties of alliance were either equal or unequal. An equal treaty enjoined each party to give military assistance to the other in the event of an attack. In an unequal treaty the second party was required to acknowledge and respect the māiestās (lit. ‘greaterness’) of the Roman people, and was effectively compelled to provide Rome with military forces on demand. Treaties were often negotiated by Roman military commanders, but they needed ratification at Rome by a vote of the comitia centuriata. The religious formalities, which included oaths and sacrifices, were supervised by the fetiales. Treaties were engraved on bronze tablets.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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