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The general term used in Roman law for criminal violence. The lex Plotia (B.C. 89) was the first regular statute punishing those who pillaged houses, occupied public places in arms, and assembled armed men for the purpose of overawing the Senate or the magistrates. Several leges Iuliae of Iulius Caesar and of Augustus were also passed to complete and consolidate previous enactments. Two kinds of vis are mentioned—vis publica, which probably meant violence immediately directed against the State, and vis privata, which would be violence primarily against an individual right, but criminal because it interfered with public order. The punishments assigned by the leges Iuliae ranged from death (house-pillaging, abduction, riot resulting in death) to exile. See Rein, Criminalrecht der Römer, pp. 732 foll.

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