Proscription (proscriptio) is the public identification and official condemnation of enemies of the state. It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a "decree of condemnation to death or banishment" and is a heavily politically-charged word frequently used to refer to state-approved murder or persecution. Proscription implies the elimination en masse of political rivals or personal enemies, and the term is frequently used in connection with violent revolutions, most especially with the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution. The term is also used to express the political violence in Argentina against Peronists after Peron fled into exile.
Sulla used proscription to restore the depleted Roman Treasury (Aerarium), which had been drained by costly civil and foreign wars in the preceding decade, and to eliminate enemies (both real and potential) of his reformed state and constitutions; the plutocratic knights of the Ordo Equester were particularly hard-hit. Giving the procedure a particularly sinister character in the public eye was the fact that many of the proscribed men never appeared again after being quietly taken by a group of men all named "Lucius Cornelius" (these men, the Sullani, were all Sulla's freedmen), giving rise to a general fear of being taken from your home at night, as a consequence of any outwardly seditious behaviour.
Sulla's proscription was bureaucratically overseen and the names of informers and those who profited from killing proscribed men were entered into the public record (because Roman law could criminalise acts ex post facto, many informers and profiteers were later prosecuted). The procedure was overseen by his freedman steward, Lucius Cornelius Chrysogonus, and was rife with corruption.