Gaming, or playing at a game of chance of any king. Gaming was looked down upon at Rome,
and hence aleator
was used as a term of reproach (in Cat. ii. 10, 23
; ad Att. xiv. 5
). It was also forbidden by special laws during the
times of the Republic and under the emperors (vetita legibus alea
, Hor. Carm. iii. 24, 58
; Cic. Phil. ii. 23, 56
ii. 470 foll.;
11, tit. 5). Three such laws occur in the Digest (l.
）—the Leges Titia, Publicia, and Cornelia—and likewise a senatus consultum
and the praetor's edict; the latter enacting severe
penalties on persons compelling others to gamble, and disabling the keepers of gambling-houses
from bringing any action for damage or loss against their customers. At what time the two
former laws were passed is quite uncertain; but the Lex Cornelia was probably one of the laws
of the dictator Sulla , who, we know, made several enactments to check the extravagance and
expense of private persons. (See Sumptus
It has been inferred from the Miles Gloriosus
) that gaming must have been forbidden by law in Plautus's time; but the lex talaria
, Ritschl) in this passage seems
rather to refer to the laws of the game than to any public enactment. Those who were convicted
of gaming were condemned to pay four times the sum they had staked (Pseudo-Ascon. in
24, p. 110, ed. Orelli), and became infames
consequence. We know that infamia
(q. v.) was frequently a consequence of
a judicial decision; and we may infer that it was so in this case from the expression of
Cicero (“Hominem lege, quae est de alea, condemnatum, in integrum
,” Cic. Phil.
l. c.). Games of chance were, however,
tolerated in the month of December at the Saturnalia, a period of general relaxation (Suet. Aug. 71
); and public opinion allowed old men to
amuse themselves in this manner (De Sen.
16, 58). Under the Empire gambling was
carried to a great height, and the laws were probably little more than nominal. Many of
the early emperors—Augustus, Caligula, Claudius, Vitellius, and
Domitian—were very fond of gaming, and set an evil example to their subjects in this
matter (Suet. Aug. 70, 71
; Cass. lix. 22; Suet. Cal. 41
33; Dio Cass.
lx. 2; Suet. Dom. 21
). Professed gamesters made
a regular study of their art, and there were treatises on the subject, among which was a book
written by the emperor Claudius (Claud.
l. c.). All gaming was forbidden
finally by Justinian (Cod. 3, tit. 43). See Walter, Geschichte d. röm.
. 763; Rein, Criminalrecht der Römer
, p. 833; and for an
account of the games of chance, the articles Par Impar; Tali;