was the selection, by lot, of every tenth
man for capital punishment, when any number of soldiers in the Roman army
had been guilty of certain military offences; usually cowardice, loss of
standards in action, or mutiny. This punishment is not often mentioned in
the early times of the republic; but the case of the consul App. Claudius
and his mutinous army, B.C. 471, is recorded both by Livy (2.59
) and Dionysius (9.50
); the latter speaks of it as customary (πάτριος
) for the offences named. Polybius
notices it as usual when troops had given way to panic; the remainder were
punished by having rations of barley instead of wheat served out to them,
and by being made to lodge outside the camp (6.38). When however Crassus
employed decimation in the servile war of Spartacus, he is described as
having revived an ancient punishment which had long fallen into disuse
10; cf. App. BC
). In the civil wars it once more became common (D. C. 41.35
Suet. Aug. 24
: cf. Cic. Clu. 46.128
4.1.37), and was retained under the empire (Suet.
12; Tac. Hist.
). Sometimes only the twentieth man was punished (vicesimatio
), or the hundredth (centesimatio
). (Capitol. Macrin.
§ 35. Cf. Marquardt,