), a prison.
Imprisonment was seldom used among the Greeks as a legal punishment for
offences. Among the Athenians, with whom we are chiefly concerned, it
was practically unknown in the sense of confinement for a definite
period after conviction. They had neither the appliances in the shape of
walls and bars, nor were they willing to
Carbatina, from bronze foot of a statue. (British
incur the expense; and they preferred either banishment or the
death penalty. Capital punishment was inflicted without hesitation for
comparatively trifling offences, but by more humane methods than those
of modern Europe until quite recent times.
Imprisonment before trial, on the other hand, was common enough, though
bail was freely accepted in cases other than capital ; the terror of
exile was in general thought sufficient to keep a man to his bail
(Demosth. c. Timrocr.
p. 739.125; p. 741.131 ; ENGYE
). The farmers of the
taxes and lessees of other revenues (τελῶναι,
), as well as their sureties (οἱ ἐγγυώμενοι
), were liable to
imprisonment if the duties were not paid by a specified time; and in
cases where default was to be feared, they might even be imprisoned at
the discretion of the senate or law-courts (Demosth. l.c.
p. 713, § § 40, 41; BOULÉ, p. 312 b). This, as
Demosthenes insists throughout the speech in question, was the great
safeguard to insure regularity of payment. Again, persons who had been
mulcted in penalties might be confined till they paid them, not only in
criminal cases (Lex ap. Demosth. c. Mid.
p. 529.47), but
in some civil actions for damages as well, especially when the ἐπωβελία
had been incurred (Demosth.
p. 939.46; c. Dionysod.
of the ἄτιμοι
also, if they exercised
the rights of citizenship, were subject to the same consequences
(Demosth. c. Timocr.
p. 732.103). We read, moreover, of
as a public stigma put upon
disgraceful offences, such as theft; but this was a προστίμημα
or additional penalty, the
infliction of which was at the option of the court; and the δεσμὸς
itself was not so much an
imprisonment as a public exposure in the ποδοκάκκη
or stocks, for five days and nights--called
also ἐν ξύλψ δεδέσθαι
(Demosth. op. cit.,
p. 700.2; pp. 732-3, §
§ 103, 105; p. 736.114). One more description of imprisonment
remains to be noticed, that in the interval between condemnation and
execution. In this last case, owing to the insecurity of the building,
the prisoner was chained, and was under the special custody of the
Eleven, who were also responsible for the execution itself.
There are, no doubt, several passages from which we might infer the
existence at Athens of imprisonment as a punishment by itself: e. g.
37 C; Laws,
9.864 E, 880 B,
and especially 10.908. In this last passage Plato proposes to have three
prisons: one of these was to be a σωφρονιστήριον
or reformatory, and another a place of
punishment for the incorrigible--a sort of penal settlement away from
the city. But such vague allusions, as Westermann rightly insists (ap.
Pauly, s. v. δεσμωτήριον
nothing against the persistent silence of the historians and orators.
The speech of Andocides against Alcibiades, where we read ( §
4) ἐξὸν κολαζειν χρήμασι καὶ δεσμῷ καὶ
is a mere rhetorical exercise; and the words of
Lysias, ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ δεδεμένος
§ 67) may easily
refer to an untried prisoner. “Of imprisonment as a punishment by
itself,” Schömann argues, “we have no certain
example;” and this remark in his text is supported by a good
1.489, E. T.). The opposite and, as it seems
to the present writer, less probable opinion has, however, been
maintained by K. F. Hermann (Staatsalterth.
139) and Caillemer (ap. Daremberg and Saglio).
The prison at Athens is frequently mentioned in the orators, both by its
usual name δεσμωτήριον
euphemistic equivalent οί̀κημα.
does not seem to
occur in any Attic writer, though there are passages (such as Demosth.
p. 614.68; c. Timocr.
764, § § 208, 209) where, if a plurality of prisons
existed at Athens, we should almost certainly find them mentioned. This
argument seems almost decisive in favour of the opinion of Ullrich
(Ueber die Elf-Männer,
p. 231 f.) and J. H.
Lipsius (Att. Process,
p. 73 n.), that there was only
one. The authority of Hesychius and the Etym. M.
insufficient to prove, in the face of probability, that there was an
Athenian prison called Θησεῖον
there is no proof that the other names for prisons recorded by the
grammarians are to be referred to Athens. Among these local names was
in Boeotia, κέραμος
in Cyprus, κῶς
Corinth; and among the Ionians γοργύρη,
as at Samos (Hdt. 3.145
; Pollux, 9.45);
or βαλαίκακες, βλέορον, ἴψον, σιρός,
all mentioned by
Hesychius. The appearance of the Latin carcer
in the Sicilian Greek κάρκαρον,
and conversely of the Greek λατομίαι
in the Latin lautumiae,
is noticed by Mommsen as a proof of the early
intercourse between the Romans and Sicily (R. H.
E. T.). Some of the above names may be slang or nicknames, such as are
often applied to prisons in our own day: thus γοργύρα
is explained to mean “a sewer;”
may be connected with ἶπος,
“a mousetrap.” The gate through which criminals were led to
execution was called χαρώνειον
Suidas, and several times in the Paroemiographers); a grim joke which
can hardly have arisen at Athens, where executions were private.
The Attic expression for imprisonment was δεῖν,
a word which by no means implies the use of chains or
fetters. The phrase in the oath of the βουλευταὶ
or senators, οὐδὲ δήσω
explained by Demosthenes (c. Timocr.
p. 746.147) as a
security against arbitrary imprisonment by the executive government
without trial. It was in fact the Habeas Corpus of the Athenian
constitution. But he is careful to add ( § 151) that no such
words occur in the oath of the Heliastae or dicasts ; the law-courts had
absolute power over men's lives, liberties, and fortunes. We have also
the phrase ἄδεσμος φυλακή
), like the libera custodia
of the Romans, signifying that a person
was under strict surveillance and guard, though not confined within the
walls of a prison.
The oldest prison at Rome, traditionally the only one in early times
3.312), was called simply
; and is still to be seen on the
eastern slope of the Capitoline hill, to the right of the ascent from
the Forum. The name Mamertinus, usually applied to the Carcer, is
mediaeval and not classical. It consists of a larger oblong upper and a
smaller underground circular dungeon; the latter is that called the
Tullianum, a name which has often been incorrectly explained. As the
original erection of the Carcer was attributed to Ancus Marcius (Liv. 1.33
), it was conjectured by the
etymologists that the name Tullianum must have been derived from Servius
Tullius, “evidently a double mistake, as the lower chamber would
certainly not have been added after the upper one.”
(Middleton, p. 80.) It is now agreed that it is from the tullii
or springs for whose waters it formed a
reservoir; that it was built in the first instance simply to protect the
water supply of the Capitol, and was only in later times used as a part
of the prison, when a captive, as in the well-known instance of
Jugurtha, was doomed to be killed by cold and starvation (Festus and P.
Diac. s. v. Tullii,
Müller; Plut. Mar. 12
Rome and the Campagna,
p. 81; Caillemer, ap.
Daremberg and Saglio). Thus Livy speaks of the infamous Pleminius as
“dejectus in Tullianum” (29.22), which in another
passage is expressed by the words “in inferiorem demissus
carcerem, necatusque” (34.44). It was here, too, that
Lentulus and the other accomplices of Catiline were strangled by order
of the Triumviri Capitales; and Sallust describes it as sunk twelve feet
in the earth, strongly walled, and with a roof vaulted with stone arches
( “insuper camera, lapideis fornicibus vincta,”
55). In reality, as modern investigations have
shown, the construction is so old that it points to a time when the arch
was not used in Roman architecture; the roof being of stone slabs, each
overlapping the one beneath it, an approximation to the true arch found
also in the well-known treasury of Mycenae and other primitive
buildings. The upper chamber is also of very early date, but later than
the Tullianum ; and it is not in its primitive condition. A projecting
string-course on the outside records a restoration in the reign of
Tiberius by the Consules Suffecti
year 22 A.D.: C. VIBIUS C. F. RVFINVS. M. COCCEIV[S
NERVA] COS. EX S. C. Another name for this part of the prison
in old Latin robus,
thus explained by Festus (p. 264 M.): “Robus
in carcere dicitur is locus, quo praecipitatur maleficorum genus,
quod ante arcis robusteis includebatur.” The robur
is spoken of as a place of execution in
several passages. “In robore et tenebris exspirare,”
; “Robur et saxum (sc.
Tac. Ann. 4.29.
So also we read of
“Catenas--et Italum robur,”
Hor. Carm. 2.13.18
. The concluding
words of Festus, “quod ante arcis robusteis includebatur,”
must of course be explained of the oaken planks or beams with which the
dungeon was formerly lined (Rein ap. Pauly, s. v. Tullianum,
); not as by Caillemer, of wooden cages
in which dangerous criminals were confined.
This prison was obviously too small to contain any number of prisoners,
and probably from the first was appropriated to those condemned to
death. The earliest mention of another prison is in the days of the
Decemvirate, B.C. 450. Appius Claudius is said to have built one for
political purposes, to overawe the champions of plebeian liberties (
“quod domicilium plebis Romanae vocare sit solitus,”
). It was into this prison that he
was himself thrown, and committed suicide while awaiting his trial. At a
later period we find an additional prison called Lautumiae
or stone-quarries in the immediate
neighbourhood of the original Carcer; whether this was the prison of
Appius, we do not know. It is not likely that there were ever any
quarries on this spot, which was to the north-west of the Forum; but it
may have been named after the Syracusan λατομίαι
which were thus used (Mommsen, ubi supra
). Varro (L. L.
Müll.) identified the Lautumiae with the Tullianum, and has
been followed by some of the moderns; but they are distinguished by the
best writers on Roman topography (Becker, Röm.
1.262-268; Burn, p. 80). The Lautumiae were clearly of
much greater extent; a conflagration in the region about the Forum, B.C.
210, extended to them, but not, it would seem, to the Carcer or the
Capitol (Liv. 26.27
); in B.C. 198 they were
again full of prisoners and hostages, and were specially guarded in a
time of conspiracy (id. 32.26); a few years later no less than
forty-three leading Aetolians (Aetolorum
id. 37.3) were confined there.
With the growth of the city other prisons became necessary; but the words
of Roman historians generally refer to these alone. Close to the Carcer,
and between it and the Temple of Concord, were the Scalae Gemoniae,
where the bodies of criminals were exposed after execution. The cases
are mentioned of Caepio, the consul defeated by the Cimbri (V. Max. 6.9.13
, but cf. 4.7.3; Cic.
111.28); Sejanus (D. C. 58.5
; Juv. Sat.
10.66); other victims of Tiberius (Suet. Tib. 61
; cf. cc. 54, 75); Sabinus
(Tac. Hist. 3.74
). Compare Burn, p.
81; Middleton, Anc. Rome in
1885, p. 78 ff.