Online Encyclopedia

DELATOR

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 945 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DELATOR, in Roman history, properly one who gave notice (deferre) to the treasury officials of moneys that had become due to the imperial fisc. This special meaning was extended to those who lodged information as to punishable offences, and further, to those who brought a public accusation (whether true or not) against any person (especially with the object of getting money). Although the word delator itself, for " common informer," is confined to imperial times, the right of public accusation had long been in existence. When exercised from patriotic and disinterested motives, its effects were beneficial; but the moment the principle of reward was introduced, this was no longer the case. Sometimes the accuser was rewarded with the rights of citizen-ship, a place in the senate, or a share of the property of the accused. At the end of the republican period, Cicero (De Officiis, ii. 14) expresses his opinion that such accusations should be undertaken only in the interests of the state or for other urgent reasons. Under the empire the system degenerated into an abuse, which reached its height during the reign of Tiberius, although the delators continued to exercise their activity till the reign of Theodosius. They were drawn from all classes of society;
End of Article: DELATOR
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