Quotes About the Bible and History

 

Cicero

The Horror of the Cross

Ancients spoke of crucifixion with horror. Cicero's history reveals a common loathing of death on the cross. It was the "extreme and ultimate punishment of slaves" (servitutis extremum summumque supplicium, Against Verres 2.5.169), the "cruelest and most disgusting penalty." (crudelissimum taeterrimumque supplicium, ibid. 2.5. 165.)
Josephus calls it "the most pitiable of deaths." (Jewish War 7:203.) 

The Lord had lived in Roman territory where crucifixion was all too familiar. This extreme punishment was Rome's method of subjugation, as Josephus' account of troubled Palestine repeatedly demonstrates. When rebellion arose in Jerusalem after the death of Herod the Great, the governor of Syria marched his legions through Galilee to Jerusalem and ordered 2,000 rebels to the cross. (Antiquities 17:295.)

At the later threat of the Jewish War in A.D. 66, the procurator Gessius Florus retaliated violently with indiscriminate slaughter in Jerusalem's streets, the arrest of many citizens, and the order that they be "first scourged and then crucified." (Jewish War 2:306.) The climax of that war was the savage siege of A.D. 70, when Jerusalem was isolated by the Roman general Titus, later the next emperor. Starvation forced hordes of the poorer classes to steal out of their fortifications for food. In typical Roman terror lactic, hundreds of these were made daily examples by being tortured and then crucified in plain view of the city walls. (Jewish War 5:449.)

When Palestine became Roman territory the cross was introduced as a form of punishment, more particularly for those who could not prove their Roman citizenship; later on it was reserved for thieves and malefactors.

The punishment of the cross was also regularly inflicted for crimes such as highway robbery and piracy, for public accusation of his master by a slave, for a vow made against his masters prosperity, and for sedition and tumult. According to Roman custom, the penalty of crucifixion was always preceded by scourging; after this preliminary punishment, the condemned person had to carry the cross, or at least the transverse beam of it, to the place of execution, exposed to the taunts and insults of the people.

On arrival at the place of execution the criminal on his cross was lifted up. Soon the sufferer, entirely naked, was bound to it with cords. He was then fastened with nails to the wood of the cross. Finally, a placard called the titulus bearing the name of the condemned man and his sentence, was placed at the top of the cross."

 
Cicero's history

 


Bibliography on Ancient Customs

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
 

Return to Ancient Customs

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