a sort of stocks (ξύλον,
), in which criminals were confined, used frequently as a
punishment for slaves. The illustrated by original meaning was probably a
thong or a strap (corresponding to the other uses of the word), and with
this strap the feet were tied to a post: so Festus defines it as
“ferreum vinculum quo pedes impediuntur,” but adds that it
also confined the neck sometimes; hence it may be said to have combined the
pillory and stocks. This will explain the expression nervum brachialem
which means embracing by throwing the arms the neck. The words numella
the same sense, and both of these (though not nervus
) were used to express the ordinary method, still in use,
of fastening up cattle by the neck (Colum. R. B.
6.19). It is
clear that [p. 2.229]
the nervus was not merely bonds, like
but, more like modern stocks and
pillory, had a wooden fiamework with holes for hands, feet, and neck, which
were kept in their places by iron bands and collars: hence Aristophanes,
Aristoph. Kn. 1049
, calls the
i. e. having five
holes, for feet, hands, and neck. (The κλοιὸς
seems to have confined the neck and hands only: Lucian.
29; the κύφων
held the neck.) This “support” of the neck is probably
indicated by Plautus in the expression os
when he speaks of the punishment of Naevius for libel:
probably also by the porrectum jugulum
1.3, 88). The stocks were used for the imprisonment of
freeborn malefactors as well as for slaves, both among Greeks and Romans.
is used for state-prisoners at
Thebes (Arist. Poi.
8.6, 15 = p. 1306): we find the nervus
for thieves (Plaut. Aul.
13); for debtors, by Law of Twelve Tables (ap. Gel.
), “vincito aut nervo aut compedibus” [NEXUM
]: compare Liv. 6.15
. So as a common part of imprisonment (cf.
16.24) it is often used as equivalent to career