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Infamia

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Infamia

In ancient Roman culture, infamia (in-, "not," and fama, "reputation") was a loss of legal or social standing. As a technical term of Roman law, infamia was an official exclusion from the legal protections enjoyed by a Roman citizen, as imposed by a censor or praetor.[1] More generally, especially during the Republic and Principate, infamia was informal damage to one's esteem or reputation. A person who suffered infamia was an infamis (plural infames).

Infamia was an "inescapable consequence" for certain professionals, including prostitutes and pimps, entertainers such as actors and dancers, and gladiators.[2] Infames could not, for instance, provide testimony in a court of law. They were liable to corporal punishment, which was usually reserved for slaves.[3] The infamia of entertainers did not exclude them from socializing among the Roman elite, and entertainers who were "stars," both men and women, sometimes became the lovers of such high-profile figures as the dictator Sulla and Mark Antony.

A passive homosexual who was "outed" might also be subject to social infamia, though if he was a citizen he might retain his legal standing.[4]

The modern Roman Catholic Church has a similar concept of Infamy.

References

  1. ^ Thomas A.J. McGinn, Prostitution, Sexuality and the Law in Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 65ff.
  2. ^ Catharine Edwards. Unspeakable Professions Public Performance and Prostitution in Ancient Rome. Princeton University Press, 1997. p. 67.  
  3. ^ Edwards, "Unspeakable Professions," p. 73.
  4. ^ Amy Richlin, "Not before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men," Journal of the History of Sexuality 3.4 (1993), pp. 550–551, 555ff.; Edwards, "Unspeakable Professions," p. 68.

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