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DELATO´RES

DELATO´RES This term was originally applied to those who gave notice to the officials of the treasury of moneys that had become due to the treasury. (The verb deferre is in classical Latin always joined with nomen when used in this sense; it is only later that it takes an accusative of the person charged.) It subsequently received a wider application. A delator was not identical with our “informer;” the term covered two classes, one consisting of those who themselves acted as prosecutors, the other of those who simply gave information. The legislature of Augustus gave the first stimulus to the habit of delation, by granting pecuniary rewards to those who secured the conviction of offenders against his laws relating to marriage (Tac. Ann. 3.28). The Lex Julia de maiestate, by rewarding the successful prosecutor with a fourth part of the estate of the condemned (Tac. Ann. 4.20), gave a fatal encouragement to this class; and although Tiberius appears to have endeavoured at first to check the practice (ib. 1.73), it became during his reign a veritable scourge; and as his suspicious temper developed, he actually encouraged them (ib. 4.30, “delatores, genus hominum publico exitio refertum et ne poenis quidem satis coercitum, per praemia eliciebantur” ). Caligula at the beginning of his reign negavit se delatoribus aures habere (Suet. Calig. 15), and Nero reduced the rewards of those who prosecuted offenders against the Papian law to the legal fourth part (Suet. Nero 10). Titus severely punished them (Suet. Tit. 8); Domitian at first followed his example (Suet. Dom. 9), but soon proved ready to use them as the tools of his tyrannous greed. They were again banished by Trajan (Plin. Paneg. 34), and denounced by a rescript of Constantine (Cod. 10.11, 5). But the need of this constant repression proves what a standing evil this class must have been to the state. (Cf. Mayor's notes on Juvenal, 1.33-36, 4.48, 10.70; Rein, Criminalrecht, 817-820; Geib, Röm. Criminal process, 350-2.)

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