This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Patricide was severely punished in Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Poena cullei
Poena cullei

In Rome, patricide was considered one of the most socially offensive crimes. The punishment for such an offense in Latin was: poena cullei.

The earliest record of our punishment known to us comes from around 100 BCE. It was to be based on the fact that the person sentenced to poena cullei was stitched in a leather sack with animals and then thrown into the sea or river. This punishment has already been used for Tarquinius Superbus in connection with religious crimes. Later, the punishment was used almost exclusively for murders of relatives. dictator Sulla kept poena cullei in the Act on Murders, but only in the event of the killing of ascendants and descendants. During Hadrian’s rule, the scope of the sentence was limited to the cases of murder of parents and grandparents.

The question is what animals were thrown into the bag of the convict. During the early empire, we only talk about snakes. During the reign of emperor Hadrian, a rooster, dog, monkey and viper were added to the sackcloth.

Constantine the Great, Constantine the Great, gave up the punishment of poena cullei in his brutal form, only agreeing to put the snake in the sack. The punishment was later imposed in the Byzantine Empire, and then in the Middle Ages in the case of infanticide.

  • Andrzej Dziadzio, Powszechna historia prawa, Warszawa 2008
  • Florike Egmond, The Cock, the Dog, the Serpent, and the Monkey. Reception and Transmission of a Roman Punishment, or Historiography as History, "International Journal of the Classical Tradition", 1995
  • Poena Cullei: The Bizarre Ancient Roman Punishment Reserved For Parricide, "Realm of History", 6 June 2017

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.


News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: