Imágenes de páginas

and with a short stick strikes him with a smart motion on the outside of his knees. The pain which these strokes produce is exquisitely severe, and which no constitution can support for any length of time. The Romans often inflicted the punishment of the scourge; the instruments employed were sticks.or staves, rods, and whips or lashes. The first were almost peculiar to the camp; the last were reserved for slaves, while rods were applied to citizens, till they were removed by the Porcian law.”

The lex talionis, a punishment similar to the injury, is mentioned in the twelve tables; but seems to have been very seldom executed, because by law the removal of it could be purchased by a pecuniary compensation. This most equitable law holds a conspicuous place in the Jewish code; the application of which was made absolute, as will

appear from the words in which it is couched : “ And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”v

Offenders were sometimes exposed to infamy or public disgrace." At Rome this punishment was imposed either by the censors, or by law, and by the edict of the prætor. Those made infamous by a judicial sentence, were deprived of their dignity, and rendered incapable of enjoying places of power and trust; sometimes of being witnesses, or making a testament. In Judea, the punishment of infamy consisted chiefly in cutting off the hair of evil doers; yet it is thought that pain was added to disgrace, and that they tore off the hair with violence, as if they were plucking a bird alive. This is the genuine sig

u Adam's Roman Antiq. p. 272.

Exod. xxi, 23, &c. w Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. i, p. 129.


nification of the Hebrew word used by Nehemiah in describing his conduct towards those Jews who had violated the law by taking strange wives : “And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair." This kind of punishment was common in Persia. King Artaxerxes, instead of pluck. ing off the hair of such of his generals as had been guilty of a fault, obliged them to lay aside the tiara. The emperor

Domitian caused the hair and beard of the philosopher Apollonius to be shaved. v

The orientals, in some cases, deprive the criminal of the light of day, by sealing up his eyes. A son of the great Mogul was actually suffering this punishment when Sir Thomas Roe visited the court of Delhi. The hapless youth was cast into prison, and deprived of the light by some adhesive plaster put upon his eyes, for the space three years; after which the seal was taken away, that he might with freedom enjoy the light ; but he was still detained in prison. Other princes have been treated in different manner, to prevent them from conspiring against the reigning monarch, or meddling with affairs of state : they have been compelled to swallow opium, and other stupifying drugs, to weaken or benumb their faculties, and render them unfit for business. Influenced by such absurd and cruel policy, Shah Abbas, the celebrated Persian monarch, who died in 1629, ordered a certain quantity of opium to be given every day to his grandson, who was to be his successor, to stupify him, and prevent him from disturbing his government. Such are probably the circumstances alluded to by the prophet : “ They have not known, nor understood; for he hath shut their eyes w Neh. xiii, 25.

* Burder, vol. i, ob. 141.





that they cannot see; and their hearts that they cannot understand.”2 The verb (nu) tah, rendered in our version, to shut, signifies to overlay, to cover over he sur face ; thus the king of Israel prepared three thousand talents of gold, and seven thousand talents of refined silver (170) to overlay the walls of the temple. But it generally signifies to overspread, or daub over, as with mortar or plaster, of which Parkhurst quotes a number of examples ; a sense which entirely corresponds with the manner in which the

a criminal are sealed

up parts of the east. The practice of sealing up the eyes, and stupifying a criminal with drugs, seems to have been contemplated by the same prophet in another passage of his book : “ Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed.”

Deprivation of sight was a very common punishment in the east. It was at first the practice to sear the eyes with a hot iron ; but a discovery that this was not effectual led to the cruel method of taking them out altogether with a sharp-pointed instrument. The objects of this barbarity are usually persons who have aspired to the throne, or who are supposed likely to make such an attempt. It is also inflicted on chieftains whom it is de sireable to deprive of power without putting them to death ; and instances occur where the male inhabitants of a city that has rebelled are exposed to this punishment, in order to strike terror by a dreadful example. For


2 Isa. xliv, 18.

a 1 Chron. xxix, 4. • Harmer's Observ. vol. iii, p. 508, 509, 510. • Malcom's Hist. of Persia, vol. ii, p. 162, 165, 170, 262, 431, 453.

this reason the hapless Zedekiah was punished with the loss of sight, because he had rebelled against the king of Babylon, and endeavoured to recover the independence of his throne. “ Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah ; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death."

The Romans punished some of their criminals by exposing them to the rage of wild beasts in the theatres. Sometimes they cast them naked to the savage animals, exasperated by long fasting, to be devoured ; this punishment was reserved for wicked servants, and persons of the vilest character. Sometimes they sent men armed into the theatre, to fight with beasts, and if they could conquer them, and save themselves, they obtained their liberty ; but if not, they became the

of their

savage antagonists. It is the last custom to which the apostle refers in these words to the Corinthians : “ If, after the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus." But

persons appointed to certain death were brought forth on the theatre, in the after part of the day, to fight either with each other, or with wild beasts. To this kind of spectacles, which were quite common in all the provinces of the Roman empire, the apostle makes a pointed allùsion in these words : “ For I think that God hath set forth us, the apostles last, as it were appointed to death ; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

“ Doomed to certain death, they were exhibited states, last, or in the afternoon, when they had not the poor chance of escaping which those brought forth in the morning had. The words ariditev exhibited, and d Jer. lii, 11. e1 Cor. v, 32.

fi Cor. iv, 9.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

satgav, a spectacle, on the theatre, have, in this connec. tion, a beautiful propriety. The whole passage, indeed, is full of high eloquence, and finely adapted to move their compassion in favour of those who were so generously expiring and sacrificing themselves for the public good."&S

The ancients sometimes exposed criminals to a particu. lar species of torture, by means of a tympanum or drum, on which they were extended in the most violent månner, and then beaten with clubs, which must have been attended with exquisite pain. To this mode of punishment, Doddridge is of opinion the apostle alludes in his epistle to the Hebrews, where he describes the sufferings of ancient believers : “ Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance,” because the word eType Telecénouv, tortured, is not a general term, but one which signifies the specific torture of the tympanum. It is, however, generally understood by interpreters, not as a mode of punishment distinct from others, but as a general term for all kinds of capital punishment and violent death ; but the opinion of Doddridge ought to be preferred, because the original word possesses a specific character; and the passage viewed in that light is precise and impressive.”

8'Doddridge in loc.

h Burder's Orient. Cust. vol. I, p. 381, 382.

« AnteriorContinuar »