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Bill Thayer

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p387 Decimatio

Unsigned article on p387 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

DECIMATIO was the selection, by lot, of every tenth man for punishment, when any number of soldiers in the Roman army had been guilty of any crime. The remainder usually had barley allowed to them instead of wheat (Polyb. VI.38; Cic. Cluent. 46). This punishment does not appear to have been often inflicted in the early times of the republic; but is frequently mentioned in the civil wars, and under the empire. It is said to have been revived by Crassus, after being discontinued for a long time (Plut. Crass. 10). For instances of this punishment, see Liv. II.59; Suet. Aug. 24, Suet. Galba 12; Tac. Hist. I.37; Dion Cass. XLI.35, XLIX.27, 38.

Sometimes only the twentieth man was punished (vicesimatio), or the hundredthº (centesimatio, Capitol. Macrin. 12).

For a modern summary, see also
this good page at Livius.Org.

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Page updated: 13 Dec 08