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LA´QUEUS

LA´QUEUS properly a rope with a noose in it, whereby anything might be pulled or led (according to Corssen's reference to lacio), used to signify the punishment of death by hanging, called triumvirale supplicium, Tac. Ann. 5.9 (6.4). Hence “Fortunae laqueum mandare” (Juv. 10.52) means “to bid Fortune go hang” (see Mayor's note). This mode of punishment was never performed in public, but only in prison, as in the Tullianum. Hence we find laqueus joined with carcer (Tac. Ann. 3.50), and with carnifex (5.9, 14.48). See also the account of the punishment of the Catilinarian conspirators (Sall. Cat. 55), where the punishment is inflicted by “vindices rerum capitalium.” Mommsen identifies (Röm. Staatsrecht, 2.595) these with the triumviri or tres viri capitales, and thinks that, in the case of important criminals and women, these officials were the actual executioners, for which theory he quotes Sallust (l.c.), V. Max. 5.4, 7. At the same time it is possible, and in the nature of things probable, that these high officials are spoken of as strangling, when they were merely present to see that the carnifex did his duty. The passage in Tac. Ann. 5.9 (or 6.4) at any rate shows that the execution of women was sometimes left to the carnifex, if not always. The punishment was not uncommon under Tiberius (Tac. Ann. ll. cc., 6.39; Suet. Tib. 61); but in the ordinary course of law the milder punishment of exile was inflicted for crimes which in old times were capitally punished, and executions were mainly reserved for real or imaginary crimes against the emperor. (Cf. Tac. Ann. 14.48.

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