Minor Laws

Lex Iulia de ambitu [The Julian Law on Bribery]

Probably passed in 18 BC.

Nothing is known about this law. It seems likely to have dealt with bribery at elections. Issues of corruption in the provinces were dealt with by a separate court. .


The period from 22-19 BC had been marked by considerable disturbances. This suggests that elections remained competitive. The passing of this law was about electoral discipline. It suggests that Augustus expected elections to remain competitive. Offices were sufficiently valued that people might bribe their way into the office.

The law must also have addressed social discipline in the high elite of Rome.

Lex Iulia de sumptuaria [The Julian Law of Expenses]

Probably 18 BC.


What is known about this law relates to its title. It is passed to limit extravagant expenditure. Sumptuary laws were about maintaining social cohesion. It prevented wealthy individuals showing off their wealth and thereby differentiating themselves from other citizens.


The  Lex Iulia Theatralis

This is a law about which very little is known. There is no good evidence for its date. The evidence would seem to suggest a date of 18 BC. The law is described by Suetonius (Augustus 44) and clearly applied to Rome and Italy. Its effect was to order the seating at games. There was prior legislation that organised seating in the theatre, but the games seem to have been more disorderly.

Senators got the front row. In Rome (though possibly not elsewhere) freedmen were sent towards the back. The soldiers had their own seats. Married men were given special seats. Boys had their own section where they had a responsible adult sitting with them. Women were also meant to sit at the back. It seems that men and women were able to intermix, partly because Ovid thinks the shows were a good place to pay one’s attentions to a girl. Certain contests were restricted to a male audience.

The law meant that at the largest assemblies of the people, the people appeared in order of rank. That order was displayed to the emperor and to the people themselves.


Moral Reforms                               Lex Iulia de adulteriis coercendis                    Lex Fufia Caninia and Lex Aelia Sentia            The New Age

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