Brill’s New Pauly

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(153 words)

[German version]

An obses (Pl. obsides, 'hostage') was taken in consequence of an agreement or for the purpose of  reprisal. In the first case, the sacrosanct 'treaty hostage' provided security for legationes , negotiations and all forms of interstatal agreements, e.g. war treaties ( indutiae ; pactio ). In case of treaties ( deditio ; foedus ) for the purpose of pax , the obses also guaranteed the performance of specific provisions. In peace he guaranteed good political behaviour. The number and exchange of hostages, as well as the period for which they wer…

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Kehne, Peter (Hannover), “Obses”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 17 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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