"As the most successful conquerors of the ancient world - and arguably the most legalistic people ever - Romans found it necessary to obtain a judicial verdict before they were willing to declare war. But this practice was also tied to the Romans' extreme religiosity. A special class of priests oversaw the process of declaring war, calling on the gods themselves to decide whether the military cause was just." "In International Law in Archaic Rome, Alan Watson focuses on the Roman priests known as fetiales, whose sole duties were declaring war, demanding reparations before war began, and making treaties. Before hostilities could begin, the fetiales conducted a process that resembled an early Roman civil trial to determine that the reasons for the war were justified. Scholars have long thought that the fetiales called on the gods as witnesses to defend the Roman cause, but Watson argues that the gods were called to act more impartially, as judges in trial. He observes that the proceedings were not designed to curry favor with the gods, nor did they include a call for vengeance from the gods on the enemy. Watson concludes that the rituals of the fetiales. also called "ambassadors of peace," were real attempts to settle disputes among the ethnically and linguistically related Latin peoples. International Law in Archaic Rome explores some of the apparent paradoxes in the Roman approach to international relations, as reflected in their religious conventions and laws of war."--BOOK JACKET.
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 73-96) and index.