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Not to be confused with iustitia, the Latin word for "justice," Justitia, the allegorical figure representing justice, or Justinian, the byzantine emperor during the era of ancient Rome.

Justitium is a concept of Roman law, equivalent to the declaration of the state of emergency. It involved the suspension of civil business, typically including the courts, the treasury and the senate. It was usually declared following a sovereign's death, during the troubled period of interregnum, but also in case of invasions. However, in this last case, it was not as much the physical danger of invasion that justified the instauration of a state of exception, as the consequences that the news of the invasion had in Rome - for example, justitium was proclaimed at the news of Hannibal's attacks. The earliest recorded occasion of Justitium being invoked was for the same reason, when in 465 BC panic gripped the city due to a mistaken belief of imminent invasion by the Aequi.

According to Giorgio Agamben, justitium progressively came to mean, after the Roman Republic, the public mourning of the sovereign: a sort of privatization or diversion of the danger threatening the polis, as the sovereign claimed for himself the auctoritas, or authority, necessary to the rule of law.

See also


  • Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, 2005.
  • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), William Smith
  • Livy, Ab urbe condita, 3.3

External links

  • The Roman Law Library by Professor Yves Lassard and Alexandr Koptev
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