The "Innocence of a child", you know, that thing that lets curious little kids sneak onto the white house lawn and not immediately get shot or whatever.

In ancient Rome (lets say during the republic in a not-as-chaotic period of time), what could a young child (lets say below ten) do or say that a adult would never be able to get away with, something they would be punished for, or at least more severely punished then a kid would be.

Slaves probably couldn't say much, and the elite could probably get away with murder, so let's talk about the pleb kids, the kid of your average nobody, what could they get away with?

Also, probably little to no real info available on this, but how would gender play into it?

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    ....most adults aren't generally going to be shot out of hand if caught sneaking onto the White House lawn. You also seem to have some misconceptions about how laws have been applied historically - I think I remember hearing that (for most common crimes) the plebs didn't go before an impartial judge, but whichever elite you ran into. Somebody who knows more should correct me on this. Note, also, that citizenship (with its attendant rights and privileges) was much narrower, and the rights of the actual Plebian class changed significantly during the Republic. Feb 17, 2017 at 8:16
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    Oops. I put a comment in the wrong place.
    – MAGolding
    Feb 20, 2017 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


There is no record of children under the age of 12 being sent to the galleys as slave/oarsmen. That grim fate, thankfully, the urchins of Rome were spared.

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    But was that a matter of justice or just a practical issue (a 10 years old child would not be of much use as an oarsman, and you still had to feed and give water to him)
    – SJuan76
    Feb 17, 2017 at 8:47
  • There weren't any galley slaves in ancient times, or not many. In fact Ii have read that many Hellenistic oarsmen were free lance professional rowers that would work for any state. The story is that Sparta won the Pelloponnesian War in the end because a Spartan admiral "cheated" in the eyes of the Athenians, paying rowers more than the customary rate (with Persian money) and thus hiring most of the available rowers and defeating the Athenians in battle
    – MAGolding
    Feb 20, 2017 at 23:04
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    MA let's not confuse the Greek and Roman times ... but yes, depending on the year, oarsmen were paid labor rather than slaves. Feb 20, 2017 at 23:05

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