In the mid-fifth century bc, during the Sabine wars, the Romans adopted one of their enemy’s gods and foisted upon him the responsibility for oaths, good faith and treaties. Since aggressive wars were unacceptable to the gods the priests who attended to these new rites had the task of proving that all Rome’s wars were defensive. We thus see that one of the earliest attempts at international law related to warfare and was clouded by an aura of cynicism in its application. In many people’s minds these are still two of the main characteristics of international law.
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