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The aggressive nature of the Romans and their predilection for knife fighting were sometimes regarded as psychological traits related to the peculiar environment and traditions of the city.3 By the end of the nineteenth century, however, criminologists and other experts had become aware that the abuse of weapons, especially of knives, was widespread in many provinces of central, southern, and insular Italy. They also suggested that the frequent abuse of weapons explained why the homicide rate in Italy was much higher than in the more "civilized" countries of central and northern Europe.
A variety of disputes could lead to violence and homicide. What was at stake is not always easy to detect. The event that gave rise to the clash was often rather trivial, but even in such cases there may have been underlying sources of tension that were totally, or partially, ignored by the magistrates.
An attempted classification of the apparent motives of homicide is shown in table 5.7. Statistical data alone cannot, however, fully describe the nature of the tensions and disputes leading to homicidal violence. I shall, therefore, illustrate them with a number of examples, highlighting some of the most recurrent features of these deadly disputes.
A great number of them apparently began over a joke, an arrogant reply, or other forms of sudden, gratuitous provocation. Disputes of this kind usually took place either in the streets or in drinking places, were related to the abuse of alcohol, and involved young men in their twenties or early thirties.
hoshin wrote:However I remember reading somewhere that the Romans and Greeks felt that slicing moves were not effective to kill in combat. They favored deep stabbing moves. In prison the terror factor of a guy completely covered in blood does send a scary message but I am wondering if the Romans were right that in true combat stabbing with direct true deadly intent is more effective. Anyone with more experience than I care to comment if this is true?
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