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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Old Quality of Life Crime

I took this picture in a small alley off the Via Giulia in Rome.

Rome Indecency Edict

Some thoughts on the nature of this quality of life offense (and the translation) after the jump.

Here's the translation:

By order of the Monsignor and President of the Streets, it is prohibited to any person to hurl on this site 'immondezze' of every kind under penalty of 15 scudi and other discretionary penalties, as published in the edict of August 10, 1765 , as to which and...

I've left the word 'immondezze" untranslated because it could mean a couple of things.  The most certain meaning is litter, which would make this an anti-littering ordinance.  But immondezza (or immondizia) can also mean any immorality or act of turpitudinousness.  And the modifying phrase "di ogni sorta" -- which I've translated as "of every kind" -- suggests that this may have been more like a general disturbing the peace offense. 

The other interesting feature of the law is that it vests a great deal of discretion in the Monsignor and President of Streets (a kind of administrator of transportation) to decide what counts as an immondezza and to impose an appropriate punishment (possibly to exceed 15 scudi), but the punishment must conform with the range of penalties prescribed by statute -- the edict of 1765 dealing with such matters.

You see -- there is lots of precedent for our current federal sentencing system.

Posted by Marc DeGirolami on June 26, 2012 at 07:25 AM | Permalink


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Bridget, che piacere (come sempre) corrispondere con te. Fear not, amica mia -- no real Roman would think there was anything remotely turpitudinous about a short skirt.

Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Jun 27, 2012 8:48:07 PM

Aw, Marc! Before I clicked through, I (non-Italian-reader that I am) was thinking that 'immondezze' meant immodesty, and that there would be a Monsignor and President of the Streets who would determine if a woman was wearing her skirt too high, or a man was wearing his shirt open too low! Immondezze tutto intorno a noi.

Posted by: Bridget Crawford | Jun 27, 2012 7:48:44 PM

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