66 The

sand at one time, by Quinctilius Varus; of about six thousand
servants, by Augustus the Sicilian, the masters of the ser-
vants having previously been slain. Josephus says, that,
at the destruction of Jerusalem, "room was wanting for
crosses, and crosses for bodies.” When nominal Christian-
ity, however, became triumphant, this species of penalty
was discarded throughout the Roman empire. As the
holiest of men once endured it, a veil of hallowed remem-
brance was flung over it ; Constantine resolved that through-
out his dominions it should no longer be profaned, and he
substituted for nailing upon the cross, strangulation upon the
gallows, (patibulum instead of crux.) He also prohibited
the breaking of the criminal's legs, because the legs of
Jesus' companions in punishment were broken, and he
stamped the cross on medals, coins, and the arms and ensigns
of his soldiers.

The Romans applied the punishment chiefly to slaves,
and therefore called it " servile supplicium," “ supplicium in
servile modum.” A crime which would subject a soldier to
decapitation, would send a slave to be crucified.
cross, the very name of it," says Cicero

pro Rab., 6 should be far, not only from the body of a Roman citizen, but also from his thoughts, eyes, ears. Not merely the endurance of all these cruelties, but also the condition to endure them, the expectation, yea, the mention of them, is unworthy of a Roman citizen and free man." It is indeed true that citizens, distinctively so called, were always exempt from this punishment; but mere freemen, who were not citizens, were sometimes exposed to it. No age nor sex were spared. Robbery, assassination, lying, theft, desertion from the army, and other crimes, were punished by it, and in the case of slaves, so small an offence as desertion from their master. Lardner says, “it was universally and deservedly reputed the most shameful and ignominious death to which a wretch could be condemned. In such an exit were comprised every idea and circumstance of odium, disgrace, and public scandal.” Hence was the cross called “infelix arbor," " infelix lignum,” “ infamus stipes,” " 6 damnata crux.” “ From this circumstance," says Justin Martyr, “the heathens are fully convinced of our madness, in giving the second place after the immutable and eternal God and Father of all, to a person who was crucified.” “We must hesitate," says Trypho, after ridi

” culing the weakness and sufferings of Jesus, “ with regard to

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our believing a person who was so ignominiously crucified, to be the Messiah ; for he fell under the greatest curse of the law of God, for it is written in the law, cursed is every one who hangeth on a tree.” We perceive, then, that the apostle

, , had a meaning, when he said, “ Christ took upon him the form of a servant,” Phil. ii. 7, 8; that “ he despised the shame," Heb. xii. 2 ; that the preaching of the cross was to the Jew, who remembered Deut. xxi. 23, “a stumbling block," and to the Greek, who asked what good can come from a nailed, pierced malefactor, “foolishness," 1 Cor. i. 23.

a The celebrated climax of Cicero, derives much of its peculiar force from the ignominy of the chastisement it describes. An order was given for his execution, for his execution

upon the cross !” “ It is an outrage to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an atrocious crime; to put him to death is almost parricide! but to crucify him what shall I call it ? "

Nor did the dreadfulness of this death result alone from its baseness. “ Crudelissimum, teterrimumque, Cicero characterizes it, and says, “ ab oculis, auribusque, et omni cogitatione hominum removendum esse." For the intensity of its pangs, it was feared far more than either burning or decapitation. “If men are free citizens,” says Ulpianus, , “they may be given to the beasts for their crimes; if slaves, they may be loaded with the heaviest punishment,” « supplicio summo," "supremo,” “extremo," as it was often denominated. We shall easily see that it must have been full of tortures if we attend to the structure of the instrument and the mode of applying it.*

There were two kinds of crosses; the simple and the double. The simple cross consisted of a single timber, to which the hands and feet were bound or nailed. Hesychius says, that sometimes the criminal was made to sit upon a sharpened stake, and the stake penetrated the body, and after passing along the spine, came out at the mouth. Seneca and Plato mention this mode of “infixion," as distinguished from that of “affixion.” Nicholas Fontanus says, that the cross sometimes came out at the breast instead of the mouth.

The double cross, according to Tertullian, Justin Martyr, and Jerome, was constructed in three different ways; first, in the form of the letter X, the two beams intersecting each


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* For a more extended view of the history of crucifixion, see Justi Lipsi V. C. Opera Omnia, tom. 1. pp. 1154-1172.

other in the middle, and one of the criminal's members being affixed to each section of each beam ; secondly, in the form of the letter T, the two beams crossing each other at right angles at the top, and one arm being affixed to each part of the transverse beam; thirdly, in a form distinguished from the second by an elevation of the perpendicular beam above the transverse, the two beams remaining at right angles to each other. According to the most ancient pictures, statues, and written representations, our Saviour suffered on the double cross, made in the third form.* The perpendicular beam was distinguished from the transverse by the epithet, “ tree,” and this word is sometimes extended in its signification to the whole instrument. See Paul's use of it in Gal. iii. 13, and Peter's, in 1 Pet. ii. 24.

In the middle of the perpendicular beam there was a projection, called “the middle seat," upon which the sufferer rested and by which in part he relieved the pressure on his limbs. The knees being bent, and the feet being therefore incapable of supporting the body, its whole weight must rest upon the hands, and sometimes they, without the aid of this middle projection, would be insufficient to sustain their burden. Although many have denied that any such seat was in use, the authority in favor of it seems to be decisive. Justin Martyr, who lived before the punishment of crucifixion was abolished, states expressly,“ in the middle of the cross there was fixed a piece of wood, as a horn, standing out, and on the horn the crucified man was as it were carried.” Irenæus also speaks of the projection in the middle of the perpendicular beam, on which projection the criminal, while held up by nails, rested and relieved himself." Tertullian and Innocent mention the same, as the means of prolonging the sufferer's agony because mitigating its intenseness. The current comparisons, also, among ancient authors, of a crucified man with an equestrian, indicate the existence of the central knob. On no other principle can we understand the phrases, “to mount upon

1366 to leap upon the cross, “ to ride,” (inequitare), “to rest upon the cross,” “to be borne and carried upon it.” Ordinarily the seat was smooth and easy, and according to Justin, was made to resemble the horn of an ox; but occasionally there were sought out for the criminal some new excruciating pains, and then the seat was made rough, pointed, and sharp.


* See Justi Lipsi, V. C. Opera Omnia, tom. 3. pp. 1157–1169.

Gregory Turonensis, who did not write until the punishment of crucifixion had been abolished, originated the idea that there was a lower projection for the feet, that the feet were nailed to this “ tabella suppedanea,” and not to the tree or trunk of the cross, and thus the criminal, instead of having his knees bent, as without this footbold they must be, would stand no less erect and firm than is upon the ground. The Edinburgh Encyclopedists yield credence to Gregory. But Salmasius has shown, that this foot-tablet is mentioned by no writer who ever witnessed a crucifixion, that it is represented on no painting or medal of authority, and that in addition to the middle seat it was needless.*

On the top of the perpendicular beam, over the hea of the malefactor, was usually placed a tablet containing the charges for which he was condemned. The tablet, according to Vossius, was covered with (cerusa) a kind of white paint on which letters were, not as some say, engraved, but written with ink or vitriol (atramentum). From the color of the tablet, it was sometimes called 1€ txoua, and the inscription was called titlos. The inscription was

τίτλος. sometimes in several different languages. That which Pilate wrote for Christ was in three; the Latin, as a tribute of respect to the empire, the Hebrew, that it might be understood by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the Greek, for the accommodation of the numerous Hellenists who had come up to the feast. The inscription over the door of the sanctuary, prohibiting the entrance of foreigners, was, for a similar reason, written in different tongues. It was not an invariable rule, however, to record the accusation of the sufferer on the tablet of the cross. Occasionally it was inscribed on a parchment covering his breast, see Adams Rom. Antiq. p. 230, often was proclaimed by a herald going before him to the cross; see Poole Syn. vol. iv. p.

675. Not more than five or six words were usually inscribed on the title-board. - Parmularius has spoken impiously,” is a superscription preserved in Suetonius; Eusebeius mentions another; "this is Attalus, a Christian.” The words


* On the subject of the “ sedilis excessus," as Tertullian calls it, and the “ Tabella suppedanea," or foot-stand, see Justi Lipsi, V. C. Opera Omnia, tom. 3. pp. 1185—1188; and also the dissertations of Bartholin, Nihusius, and Fontanus, connected with the Hypomnemata de cruce hristi, pp. 57— 156, 264–290.

For the motives which prompted to the notion of a foot-stand, see Paulus Com. ueber die ersten Evangel. Th. Drit. 759, 760.

placed over our Saviour, are supposed to have varied in the different languages, and thus the varied representations of them by the Evangelists may be, each, correct. Each contains a provoking laconic sarcasm upon the Jews, whom Pilate hated ungovernably. Here, on the slave's cross, is your King ! Jesus, a man from contemptible, little Nazareth, and yet the King of all Jewry !

The height of the tree of the cross was ordinarily about ten feet. Of these, two, and sometimes three feet were sunk in the earth, so that the elevation of the criminal above the earth's surface was no more than from twelve to thirty-six inches. It was easy for the sufferer hanging on so low an instrument, to converse, as Christ did, with the by-standers, and easy for the by-standers, like them who gave Christ the impregnated “posca," to reach the head of the sufferer.*

According to Lipsius, the instrument was usually “made of oak, and was very durable,” remaining sound in certain situations, two or three hundred years. No confidence is to be placed, however, in the pretended discovery of the Saviour's cross, by Helen, Constantine's mother, who bewildered the church with her authoritative phantasies on this theme. The far-famed and almost deified instrument, which she excavated from Calvary, was reported to be fifteen feet in height, and seven or eight in length ; and now, says a quaint author, “ if all the fragments of it, which are paraded for a holy show in Catholic convents, were collected together, the whole British navy could not export them at a voyage, and they would build a magnificent palace or cathedral for the Pope."

The instrument was erected for crucifixion at some conspicuous and frequented place. Quinctilian says, “as often as we crucify malefactors, we select the most celebrated roads, where the greatest possible number of witnesses can look on and be moved with fear.” Polycrates selected for the scene the highest summit of the celebrated Mycale ; Alexander, the most public place in his cities; the Mamertines resorted to the “ Pompeian way,” and in nearly all populous

* There were sometimes peculiar causes for constructing a cross of greater dimensions. Suetonius relates, that when a Roman citizen had been sentenced to the cross by Galba, and had presented his objections against the instrument, as inappropriate to a citizen, the governor ordered a very lofty cross to be erected for him, and whitened over, so as to distinguish him from those who were not citizens, “ to give him some consolation, and alleviate his punishment by a mark of respect.”

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