Med‑EVIL Torture and Execution


March 6th, 2004


English 12


Research Paper


Torture has been used since the dawn of civilization. The victims of torture have represented a wide variety of classes and cultures. Torture was used extensively in certain times including the Roman empire, the witch hunts, and the Spanish Inquisition. These periods are remembered best for their cruelty.(Pelayo, 42‑46) Throughout these periods torture rituals have evolved into a gruesome art perfecting the skill required to stretch a person’s endurance to the breaking point.


Torture can be dated back as far as the crucifixion of the Christ. The first written mention of torture that was ever found was traced back to the Code of Hammurabi from Babylon during the 18th century B.C.E. The code of Hammurabi stated that if one has gouged out the eye of another, he has the right to gouge out an eye in return, hence, an eye for an eye.


In Greece, under Drakan’s Law in 621 B.C.E. death was a penalty for most crimes. In that period, treason and adultery were not valued and mostly ended in death. Other crimes punishable by death were theft, arson, and disloyalty to one’s country.


In 536 B.C.E., almost a century later in China, The Book of Punishments outlined the consequences for serious crimes. Usually the punishment would involve amputation, castration, and sometimes even death. The seriousness of the crime determined the seriousness of the torture (the worse the crime, the worse the torture).


In the early Roman Empire, torture was used mainly against slaves. If the slaves did not follow their Masters’ orders to the T, they were executed, no questions asked and no exceptions given. This cruel form of punishment ended in about 240 B.C.E. Later Roman leaders, including Nero in 54‑68 A.D., used this relentlessly against Christians and slaves. Julius Caesar only used forms of torture against his enemies.