Perjury, honour, and disgrace in Roman Antiquity

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Perjury–swearing to a false statement or not fulfilling a promissory oath–attracted universal condemnation in Antiquity, as well as promises of harsh divine retribution. Human responses to perjury, however, varied among the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean. This article surveys these responses, locates their cultural contexts, and explains them by examining perjury as an affront to honour. Legal penalties, expiation rituals, and other social responses highlight the various ways that society reifies, performs, and transforms the changing social status of the perjurer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-41
Number of pages23
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Roman Empire
  • divine
  • late Antiquity
  • oaths
  • perjury
  • punishment
  • shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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