Labels can be tricky. Often they elicit different reactions from different people who interpret them differently. The Latin term, used by the first Latinos – the Romans – to officially condemn an enemy of the state was “proscription.” (Literally this meant “writing ahead of time” the penalty, usually death and total property forfeiture, the person would suffer.) The Romans also coined the term hostis publicus that translates as “public enemy” or “enemy of the people.” The distinction between enemy of the state and enemy of the people is that the former is a national offense to be interpreted as an act of war and the latter is an offense against society as a whole. The Roman Senate used these terms as the basis of their Resolution to remove Nero from office declaring him to be an enemy of the state and therefore guilty of acts of war.
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