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The Tribunes' Court

Then the Tribunes at once hold a court-martial,
Military punishments: the fustuarium.
and the man who is found guilty is punished by the fustuarium; the nature of which is this. The Tribune takes a cudgel and merely touches the condemned man; whereupon all the soldiers fall upon him with cudgels and stones. Generally speaking men thus punished are killed on the spot; but if by any chance, after running the gauntlet, they manage to escape from the camp, they have no hope of ultimately surviving even so. They may not return to their own country, nor would any one venture to receive such an one into his house. Therefore those who have once fallen into this misfortune are utterly and finally ruined. The same fate awaits the praefect of the squadron, as well as his rear-rank man, if they fail to give the necessary order at the proper time, the latter to the patrols, and the former to the praefect of the next squadron. The result of the severity and inevitableness of this punishment is that in the Roman army the night watches are faultlessly kept. The common soldiers are amenable to the Tribunes; the Tribunes to the Consuls. The Tribune is competent to punish a soldier by inflicting a fine, distraining his goods, or ordering him to be flogged; so too the praefects in the case of the socii. The punishment of the fustuarium is assigned also to any one committing theft in the camp, or bearing false witness: as also to any one who in full manhood is detected in shameful immorality: or to any one who has been thrice punished for the same offence. All these things are punished as crimes. But such as the following are reckoned as cowardly and dishonourable in a soldier: —for a man to make a false report to the Tribunes of his valour in order to get reward; or for men who have been told off to an ambuscade to quit the place assigned them from fear; and also for a man to throw away any of his arms from fear, on the actual field of battle. Consequently it sometimes happens that men confront certain death at their stations, because, from their fear of the punishment awaiting them at home, they refuse to quit their post: while others, who have lost shield or spear or any other arm on the field, throw themselves upon the foe, in hopes of recovering what they have lost, or of escaping by death from certain disgrace and the insults of their relations.1

1 See the story of Cato's son, Plutarch, Cato Maj. 20.

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load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
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hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CASTRA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FUSTUA´RIUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HASTA
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Plutarch, Marcus Cato, 20
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