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Ancient authors developed a theory of moral decline, which linked the crisis of the Roman state with the process of decay of traditional norms and values (mos maiorum) under the infl uence of alien customs, of luxury and wealth. However, the fi rst Roman sumptuary laws had been taken earlier than gradual extension of luxury began. Lex Claudia, lex Metilia and lex Oppia of 218–215 BC were taken about 30 years before the triumphs of Scipio and Manlius. This gives the impression that in Roman society, barely faced the impact of luxury, had already existed both a theoretical understanding of the problem (philosophical doctrine of the decline of morals) and the practical mechanism in the form of sumptuary laws. The explanation of this paradox is related with the incorrect translation of the term «sumptuary laws» into Russian and other languages.


Rome, sumptuary laws, Greek philosophy, familia, sumptus, luxus

Vladimir A. Kvashnin

Vologda State University, Vologda, Russia

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