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Execution of the Condemned

The Romans were especially clever at establishing severe methods of execution. Crucifixion was a long-drawn out penalty, not exactly riveting to an audience. Emperor Augustus, however, is credited with instituting a more exciting method, one he came to invent by chance.

Miriam explains: Augustus established damnatio ad bestia after a Sicilian robber named Selerus was being pilloried on a high platform in the Forum. When the platform happened to collapse, he fell into a cage of wild beasts. The sight was so amusing to those who came to taunt him that this form of execution became a regular feature of the games. And once at the games, when Caligula faced a shortage of condemned criminals, he ordered his soldiers to seize an entire section of spectators and have them thrown to the lions instead.

When, in THE DEADLIEST HATE, Tiberius Julius Alexander, the governor of Judea, invites Miriam to join his party at the games, they arrive too late for domnatio ad bestia, but Miriam knows they would have been bored with that event anyway. In fact, they were eager for only the ultimate gladiatorial bout, when a little-known but promising Agrippa Fortitudo would be pitted against the betting favorite and most popular gladiator in the Empire.

Now, if you've been reading my blogs or my books, you know who Agrippa Fortitudo must be. I cannot tell you, of course, but I will take a moment to think his birth name as loudly as I can. Need a hint? Then click here.

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