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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

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