DAMNATIO AD BESTIAS

Condemnation to the beasts is considered a lighter punishment among some scholars than execution, perhaps because in some cases the condemned were armed or otherwise able to defend themselves. It was applied to parricides, murderers, rebels, prisoners of war and sometimes Christians Polycarp, the martyrs of Lyons, Perpetua and companions, etc.. It was a favorite entertainment of the ancients; we possess depictions of it. Popular among the pagans at spectacles and in worship: with contortions and gyrating movements to induce ecstasy Apulieus, Metam. 7, 27, or in orgiastic feasts such as those for the goddess Syria, accompanied by religious songs and instrumental music Lucian, Dea Syria 50.

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