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Carnifex – executioner in ancient Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman relief showing a butcher at work
Roman relief showing a butcher at work

In ancient Rome, there was an office of a public executioner (carnifex), which carried out the execution and supervised the torture of slaves and foreigners.

Carnifex, because of his scandalous profession, operated outside the city limits in a place known as the Sessorium, where slaves were also punished.

Interestingly, Pompey the Great was referred to in the 50s of the 1st century BCE. adulescentulus carnifex (“youth’s butcher”), due to brutal crackdown on Marius’s henchmen, at Sulla’s behest at the beginning of his career.

  • William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D., A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

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