Here's a shoutout to all historians in What You Did Last Summer 10,000 BCE ago! Please allow me to introduce the worst execution place in Medieval Europe's history - Ancient Rome. Have you ever wonder how creative the Romans were to come up with all those nasty executions as a form of capital punishment? Did they really take pleasure in looking at the torture of others or were they simply just following the laws implemented by the Roman Senate? Well... Here's a casual interaction recorded as a podcast between myself and a colleague of mine! As a historian, I will be providing a brief summary about the Ancient Roman Executions and how it is related to the present world. Throughout the conversation, I will be clarifying all her doubts as well. Do give it a thumbs up if you truly enjoy and learn something from it! :) [audio m4a=""][/audio]



Me: Hey everyone! Welcome to a conversation on World Civilization. In this podcast, we will be going through how and why Ancient Roman Executions take place in early BCE and its impact on the current world we are living in. So… Let’s begin!

Colleague: Oh! (x2) I have a burning question in mind! Why did Ancient Rome impose such inhumane act against the people as a form of capital punishment?

Me: In the Ancient Roman society, capital punishment was seen as a solution to maintain peace and order. Therefore, it was essential in those times when the society was more chaotic and peace was often disrupted by neighboring cities. Not only was it humiliating, it was an extreme torture to our fellow human beings! From my perspective, it was implemented to reinforce the concept of “obedience” toward the Roman Senate. It is an act of inducing fear in people to not go against them. Also, I think that it was served as a public warning as well.

Colleague: Okay. May I ask where and how the Romans execute people?

Me: Well… Mass executions were conducted at the Coliseum to accommodate large crowds, witnessing the inglorious deaths of the condemned victims.

Colleague: OMG… How can they be so ruthless?

Me: Apparently, the Romans were told to attend as spectators for an important social function (back then, it was known as the Roman Games) by Emperor Claudius. The most common methods of executions were through exile and suicide. In the meanwhile, crucifixion still remained as the most well known execution of all time in history, ever since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Another popular execution method is known as Damnatio ad bestias.

Colleague: Oh wait. What does that mean?

Me: To put it simply, it means “death by damnation of the beasts" (Jrome, 2015). This was the case when the condemned victims were eaten alive by wild beasts (such as lions, tigers and panthers). In other words, they were simply thrown into the arena and offered as a form of sacrifice to the beasts. Hence, these exotic creatures were starved for days before they were released into the arena and feed on the victims. Not only was it introduced as a capital punishment, it was also seen as an entertainment back then.

Colleague: Wow… I am still shocked by their sadistic nature!

Colleague: I would like to clarify my doubts. Ermm... I understand that Roman citizens did not face crucifixion as a capital punishment. But why is that so? Was it a privilege that was granted to them?

Me: Yes, it was! Due to the fact that Ancient Roman society was more hierarchal and patriarchal, Roman citizens were at the top of the social structure followed by slaves and farmers. Therefore, Roman citizens were beheaded instead as they believed that it was a more honorable way to die. On the other hand, victims who were condemned to death by crucifixion were mainly criminals, slaves and surprisingly, Christians! Early Christians were often crucified because of their rejection to worship the Roman Gods or Emperor.

Colleague: So… When was the crucifixion introduced in Ancient Rome?

Me: In fact, crucifixion was introduced way before the birth of Jesus Christ in the early BCE. It was established to indicate the lowest social status of those who were condemned for public humiliation. Fortunately, crucifixion was abolished by “Constantine the Great” later in 4CE, who became the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire

Colleague: Okay… Ermm… How does it impact us in today’s world?

Me: Good question! Over the past few years, I am sure that all of us are aware that the world has been subjected to the atrocities of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). Barely a year ago, ISIS has engaged in public execution of 25 men at the Coliseum, which is known to be one of the most historical places of Rome. According to recent reports, it was believed that the Islamic State has taken a page out of Roman history and brought back the cruelty of public executions. Isn’t it shocking?

Colleague: Uh huh…

Me: Furthermore, crucifixion has unfortunately made its way to Modern Syria. In 2014, two dead men were blindfolded and hanged on a cross. Its intended purpose is to warn anyone who questions the authority of ISIS. Don’t you think it sounds familiar to the early practice of Ancient Rome?

Colleague: Yeah, it kinda does. Hmm… That’s really interesting!

Me: Yes. Thank you for listening.