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ECU´LEUS less correctly EQUULEUS an instrument of torture commonly used at Rome in extracting evidence from slaves. It was a wooden horse, as the name implies, on which the sufferer was mounted and then stretched or racked with weights or pulleys (eculeo longior factus, Sen. Ep. 67.3, almost the only phrase that tells us anything of its nature). Rich (s. v.) thinks that the infliction consisted in being seated on a sharp point, as in impalement; a form of cruelty not unknown in recent times, of which he gives a specimen. Very little is really known about this and all other engines of torture among the Greeks and Romans. It is well remarked by Rich that “their artists never depicted scenes calculated to awaken painful emotions” ; and it may be added that their writers allude to this dark side of life only in the most general terms; a striking contrast to the realistic descriptions and ghastly illustrations of many modern works. Cicero says that slaves accused of murder might expect the eculeus at the trial, the crux on conviction (pro Mil. 21.57; 22.60). Seneca mentions as the usual modes of torture, fidiculae, talaria (sc. flagella, the μάστιγες ἀστραγαλωταὶ of the Greeks), eculeus and ignis (de Ira, 3.19.1). (Marquardt, Privatleben, 180. Compare FIDICULA, FLAGELLUM; the legal aspect under TORMENTUM


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