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p1095 Talio

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p1095 of

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

TA′LIO, from Talis, signifies an equivalent, but it is used only in the sense of a punishment or penalty the same in kind and degree as the mischief which the guilty person has done to the body of another. A provision as to Talio occurred in the Twelve Tables: Si membrum rupit ni cum eo pacit talio esto. (Festus, s.v. Talionis). This passage does not state what Talio is. Cato as quoted by Priscian (VI p710, Putsch) says: Si quis membrum rupit aut os fregit, talione proximus cognatus ulciscatur. The law of Talio was probably enforced by the individual or his friends: it is not probable that the penalty was inflicted under a decision of a court of justice. It seems likely that it bore some analogy to the permission to kill an adulterer and adultress in certain cases, which the Julia Lex confirmed; and if so, the law would define the circumstances under which an injured person or his cognati might take this talio. The punishment of death for death was talio; but it is not said that the cognati could inflict death for death. Talio, as a punishment, was a part of the Mosaic law: "breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again." (Levit. xxiv.20; Rein, Das Criminalrecht der Römer, pp37, 358, 816, 915).


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