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FUSTUA´RIUM (ξυλοκοπία), called also fusti percutere, was a capital punishment inflicted upon Roman soldiers for the highest military offences. It is thus described by Polybius (6.37):--When a soldier was condemned, the tribune touched him slightly with a stick, upon which all the soldiers of the legion fell upon him with sticks and stones, and generally killed him upon the spot. If however he escaped, for he was allowed to fly; he could not return to his native country, nor did any of his relatives dare to receive him into their houses. The fustuarium occurs throughout Roman history, in the earliest and latest times. It was inflicted for desertion, cowardice in action, quitting a man's commander, his standard, or his post (Liv. 5.6.14; Cic. Phil. 3.6, § 14; Tac. Ann. 3.21; Serv. ad Aen. 6.825); as also for any neglect of duty, such as failure to pass the watchword, &c. which might endanger the safety of an army (Polyb. l.c.). Its infliction upon a primuspilus by Calvinus, proconsul of Spain in B.C. 39, is mentioned as unusual, and a revival of antique severity (Vell. 2.78 extr.). (Cf. Marquardt, Staatsverw. 2.553: EXERCITUS p. 811 b.

This punishment must be distinguished from the vitis, the badge of a centurion's authority, and used by him at his discretion upon the heads and shoulders of gregarii milites in keeping them up to their work (Juv. 8.247). Different also from the fustuarium was the animadversio fustium, which was a corporal punishment inflicted under the emperors upon free men, but only those of the lower orders (tenuiores, Dig. 48, 19, 28, 2). It was a less severe punishment than the flogging with flagella, which punishment was confined to slaves. (Dig. 48, 19, 10; 47, 10, 45.) [FLAGRUM]

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hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.37
    • Cicero, Philippics, 3.6
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 6.14
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