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Were Roman Crucified Victims Always In The Nude?

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ralmcg

Governor
I am interested in this question. Were Roman crucified victims always crucified in the nude? My opinion is it depended on the circumstances. The Romans were probably more likely to make their crucified victims nude if they were executed for crimes against the res pubica (i.e. the Senate and People of Rome), in other words crimes against the state, as opposed to regular crimes like stealing and murder of average people. The Romans wanted to make an example of state criminals by humiliating them with nudity so as to scare people against opposing Rome. They don't want to be on display naked. How would you reply to this question?
 

crumera

Crucifier of Pixels
Economics!
Clothing was expensive as everything was handmade.
While the magistrate would prolly not be interested in this, the executioners and the guards might see the clothing as a little bonus.
While maybe not a legal requirement, the clothing in most cases were too valuable to squander on a the soon to be dead criminal.
For slave owners why not give the soon to be crucified clothes to another slave?

There is not much historical writing about the process of crucifixion.
So we don't know for sure.
Displaying a criminal naked for humiliation purposes might have been a reason for sure too.
Romans went naked in bathhouses and on other appropriate public occasion, but that was a choice.
Being displayed naked, that's something entirely different.

I think for these reasons, yeah I think most crucified were naked.

But there might have been exceptions:

A rich roman slave owner displaying his wealth by insisting his crucified slaves were kept dressed.

Family of the crucified bribing guards/executioners to keep them clothed for sake of the families reputation.

In cold weather conditions, the naked crucified would probably die too soon so clothing was left to keep him/her
longer alive.

In fantasy:
I generally like naked crucified women better then clothed ones, so most of the time they are without clothes in my renders.
But exceptions are like the spice of life.

Other peoples fantasies are different of course.. That's a good thing :)
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
I am interested in this question. Were Roman crucified victims always crucified in the nude? My opinion is it depended on the circumstances. The Romans were probably more likely to make their crucified victims nude if they were executed for crimes against the res pubica (i.e. the Senate and People of Rome), in other words crimes against the state, as opposed to regular crimes like stealing and murder of average people. The Romans wanted to make an example of state criminals by humiliating them with nudity so as to scare people against opposing Rome. They don't want to be on display naked. How would you reply to this question?
I think, there are many aspects about this question.

First of all, nudity has been a part of executions and punishments throughout time and in different societies. Particularly with public executions, in order to add to the humiliation of the condemned, and to make the condemned clear that he/she was no longer part of society.

There could also be practical issues, such as recuperation of the clothing, and particularly, to avoid that the clothes would get soiled during the execution, and someone would have to wash them (all right, in Roman times, this could be a slave's job, but anyway...).

What are the sources? First of all, the gospels, I guess.

Now, all right, it would humiliate an enemy of the state more than a slave, because of the much deeper falling down.

Anyway, I would not bother too much, since on this forum, we anyway shape Roman times habits to our own fantasies, right?
 

culus

Magistrate
I would say that those crucified were most likely stripped nude for crucifixion, in order to degrade and humiliate them. Throughout history the condemned were exhibited nude. Vlad the Impaler certainly executed his victims nude, as the spike was inserted into their rectums. The English practiced hang, drawing and quartering and the condemned were stripped naked and tied to a hurdle, spreadeagled, then "drawn" by horses through the crowds gathered on the streets of London, to the place of execution. The Borgias were also known to humiliate their victims, including priests, by marching them naked through the streets and then executing them in a variety of ways. For the masses this would have been quite exciting, particularly if the condemned were a member of nobility or the church. Being able to watch the high and mighty stripped to the skin and seeing their most private organs on display must have satisfied the most prurient of the populace.
 

malins

Stumbling Seeker
I guess much more important than the idea of granting modesty to a victim (which I think would not have happened),
is whether public perception would see the exposure of genitals etc. as something offensive / unholy / morally pollutant to the observers.

Depending on which specific locality within the Empire one is considering, over centuries of its existence, this might have been quite different. Dealing with local mores and traditions that wouldn't always be fully Romanized.

I don't see any reason at all, if someone was sentenced to the absolutely lowliest form of execution, they'd be granted any kind of honor or modesty. Maintaining public order by not violating the sensitivites of the crowd might have been a motivation.
 

malins

Stumbling Seeker
Although these crowds could have a double morality, one for themselves and one when it concerned 'strangers' or 'outcasts' or 'criminals' condemned to the cross.
I wasn't meaning a humanitarian sensitivity as in 'they shouldn't be doing that to someone'. Which would diminish if the condemned one is not really considered 'someone'.

Rather a violation of a taboo - that the onlookers might feel their own purity threatened by the act of exposing something that in public is considered 'unclean'.

If culural taboos exist locally, and in case the authorities are interested firstmost in maintaining order by making an example of an individual criminal (murder, traitor, rebel, runaway slave) they might want to avoid a situation where onlookers feel soiled in that way.

However if the point is to humiliate and enrage the local population (because maybe a new legion has just arrived that is thirsty for blood and wants to provoke an uprising they can put down ;) ) they might double down on it.

I think this kind of 'cultural management' and 'let us focus on stamping out the rebels, not enraging the enire populace' would be a more likely explanation for any semi-clothed crux in a Roman context, than 'the executioners or the judging powers are fine with ordering crucifixions but want to grant victims some modesty' ...
 

WhiteGirl

Assistant executioner
From what I have read, all crucifixion victims were naked, although when they were stripped depends on the circumstances/location. The clothing was a "perk" for the executioners.
Normally, the body was left on the cross until it decompsed and fell off. What was left was disposed on the common rubbish tip to further offend the religious requirements of the victims and their families.
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
I guess much more important than the idea of granting modesty to a victim (which I think would not have happened),
is whether public perception would see the exposure of genitals etc. as something offensive / unholy / morally pollutant to the observers.

Depending on which specific locality within the Empire one is considering, over centuries of its existence, this might have been quite different. Dealing with local mores and traditions that wouldn't always be fully Romanized.

I don't see any reason at all, if someone was sentenced to the absolutely lowliest form of execution, they'd be granted any kind of honor or modesty. Maintaining public order by not violating the sensitivites of the crowd might have been a motivation.

A point I've made a few times when this question comes up - there was a strong belief in those times, especially I think in the east (Jewish, Persian, Arab etc.), but influencing the Roman world, that the sight of a naked person was polluting and shameful, even harmful, to the viewer. If crucified prisoners were given loincloths etc., it wasn't necessarily to protect their dignity, it was to protect those who looked at them .
 
There is a "Christian novel" called the Acts of Paul and Thecla written toward the end of the second century. The virgin Thecla of Iconium in Turkey is stripped naked to be burned for declining an arranged marriage. Supposedly this mimics Acts 16:19, where at Phillipi Paul and Silas are stripped and beaten with rods for having cast a demon out of a slave girl, whose divinations inspired by the demon had made a lot of money for her owners. In neither of those two cases is nudity necessary, but at least for the novel it adds "forbidden images" to the interest. Maybe in the case of the punishment of Paul and Silas (at the orders of a Roman magistrate responding to complaints of Roman citizens) it is more standard operating procedure.
On the other hand, Paul and Barnabas have been stoned previously in Acts at Lystra (having left Iconium under threat of being stoned there), and no mention is made of nudity--they are just left for dead outside the city and pick themselves up and walk away, supposedly not naked. Nor does there appear to have been nudity in the stoning of Stephen in Jerusalem. Neither of these cases involve and "official" action, however--just an outraged mob of inhabitants.
Nudity is probably an element of execution most of the time, at the magistrate's discretion. I have read that there was no "standard" crucifixion--the details are left to the "imagination--and cruelty" of the executioners. But magistrates probably weighed in if they had strong feelings about a case. When owners wanted to crucify their slaves, magistrates had to approve, but that isn't the same as a magistrate ordering an execution as a result of a police action.
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
A point I've made a few times when this question comes up - there was a strong belief in those times, especially I think in the east (Jewish, Persian, Arab etc.), but influencing the Roman world, that the sight of a naked person was polluting and shameful, even harmful, to the viewer. If crucified prisoners were given loincloths etc., it wasn't necessarily to protect their dignity, it was to protect those who looked at them .

It all depends of the attitude of the rulers. Invaders with a more 'live and live' mentality may observe local sensitivities, and perhaps, leave justice to the locals and just monitor it.
Invaders with the mentality of being superior in race and culture, will bother little about the sensitivities of the 'inferior' locals. They do fear a rebellion, since they consider themselves strong enough to crush it at any cost.
 

WhiteGirl

Assistant executioner
A point I've made a few times when this question comes up - there was a strong belief in those times, especially I think in the east (Jewish, Persian, Arab etc.), but influencing the Roman world, that the sight of a naked person was polluting and shameful, even harmful, to the viewer. If crucified prisoners were given loincloths etc., it wasn't necessarily to protect their dignity, it was to protect those who looked at them .
I'm sorry but I have to disagree. The "Roman" occupying armies were not actually Romans. They didn't care about local cultures. More likely that the occupying forces would be recruited from peoples that were already hostile to the country that they were occupying.
Thus, the Roman Empire was able to continue by subjugating its colonies.
 

flesh1

Onlooker
I am interested in this question. Were Roman crucified victims always crucified in the nude? My opinion is it depended on the circumstances. The Romans were probably more likely to make their crucified victims nude if they were executed for crimes against the res pubica (i.e. the Senate and People of Rome), in other words crimes against the state, as opposed to regular crimes like stealing and murder of average people. The Romans wanted to make an example of state criminals by humiliating them with nudity so as to scare people against opposing Rome. They don't want to be on display naked. How would you reply to this question?
In ancient Rome cruxifiction was death penalty only for non roman citizens who committed heavy crimes inside the roman jurisdiction area.
For roman citizens death penalty was administered through beheading.
So how could a non roman citizen commit a crime against the res publica since he couldn't be an administrator of the res publica ?
For the most, people damned to death by cruxifiction were non-roman citizens who committed murders and robbery with murder, like, for example, Barabas, the robber-murderer that Pontius Pilatus had to set free after people in Jerusalem opted to release Barabas and condemn Jesus.
In those times there were quite a few highwaymen who were used to rob kill and rape without problems.
Once they were caught they had to face cruxifiction.
In other populations about the same era there could be different ways of administering death, some of which very slow and painful, like impaling or skinning alive.

So you have to consider cruxifiction and beheading (for non roman and roman citizens inside roman jurisdiction) in their own context, that is to say in those ages.
 

flesh1

Onlooker
I'm sorry but I have to disagree. The "Roman" occupying armies were not actually Romans. They didn't care about local cultures. More likely that the occupying forces would be recruited from peoples that were already hostile to the country that they were occupying.
Thus, the Roman Empire was able to continue by subjugating its colonies.
In the last stages of the empire this happened, very rarely before.
That is to say Romans of the 4th and 5th centuries used to pay barbarian populations to control other barbarian populations hostile to them.
This also because from the 3rd century Rome was troubled by civil wars and struggles to gain power by some generals and there was no more ONE roman army but militias who followed single generals.
For example, the first years of 4th century (about 280-310) Italy was divided into four tetrarchies everyone under the control of a single general, till the advent of Constantin that after the battle of Ponte Milvio (autumn 312) made the edict of Milan (313) that made legal professing christianism.
In that context Constantin united Italy again after the civil wars.
 

ralmcg

Governor
In ancient Rome cruxifiction was death penalty only for non roman citizens who committed heavy crimes inside the roman jurisdiction area.
For roman citizens death penalty was administered through beheading.
So how could a non roman citizen commit a crime against the res publica since he couldn't be an administrator of the res publica ?
For the most, people damned to death by cruxifiction were non-roman citizens who committed murders and robbery with murder, like, for example, Barabas, the robber-murderer that Pontius Pilatus had to set free after people in Jerusalem opted to release Barabas and condemn Jesus.
In those times there were quite a few highwaymen who were used to rob kill and rape without problems.
Once they were caught they had to face cruxifiction.
In other populations about the same era there could be different ways of administering death, some of which very slow and painful, like impaling or skinning alive.
In the population of Scythians, in Middle Asia, the kids of defeated villages were tossed in the air and skewered with swords. I mean babes, and female babies were raped and then sold as slaves.
So you have to consider cruxifiction and beheading (for non roman and roman citizens inside roman jurisdiction) in their own context, that is to say in those ages.

When I say res publica I mean the Roman state as a whole including the provinces.
 

WhiteGirl

Assistant executioner
In the last stages of the empire this happened, very rarely before.
That is to say Romans of the 4th and 5th centuries used to pay barbarian populations to control other barbarian populations hostile to them.
This also because from the 3rd century Rome was troubled by civil wars and struggles to gain power by some generals and there was no more ONE roman army but militias who followed single generals.
For example, the first years of 4th century (about 280-310) Italy was divided into four tetrarchies everyone under the control of a single general, till the advent of Constantin that after the battle of Ponte Milvio (autumn 312) made the edict of Milan (313) that made legal professing christianism.
In that context Constantin united Italy again after the civil wars.
Rome was (and still is) a small city. There is no way that Rome could have created an army large enough to control its empire. In some cases it was necessary to hire mercenaries but, mostly, local lordlings could be bribed to support the Roman cause.
 

WhiteGirl

Assistant executioner
In ancient Rome cruxifiction was death penalty only for non roman citizens who committed heavy crimes inside the roman jurisdiction area.
For roman citizens death penalty was administered through beheading.
So how could a non roman citizen commit a crime against the res publica since he couldn't be an administrator of the res publica ?
For the most, people damned to death by cruxifiction were non-roman citizens who committed murders and robbery with murder, like, for example, Barabas, the robber-murderer that Pontius Pilatus had to set free after people in Jerusalem opted to release Barabas and condemn Jesus.
In those times there were quite a few highwaymen who were used to rob kill and rape without problems.
Once they were caught they had to face cruxifiction.
In other populations about the same era there could be different ways of administering death, some of which very slow and painful, like impaling or skinning alive.
In the population of Scythians, in Middle Asia, the kids of defeated villages were tossed in the air and skewered with swords. I mean babes, and female babies were raped and then sold as slaves.
So you have to consider cruxifiction and beheading (for non roman and roman citizens inside roman jurisdiction) in their own context, that is to say in those ages.
As I recall, Roman citizens could have a quick death.
Crucifixion was not just for heavy crimes. Petty theft could earn crucifixion. If a slave killed his or her master, all the master's slaves (men, women and children) would be crucified,
Jesus was clearly not guilty of any heavy crime -- but then he was not crucified by the Romans.
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
At its height, more than with legions, Rome controlled the provinces by a uniform law, including penal law. That was one of the unifying agents of the empire, and implementation of these laws likely kept little account of local habits.
No one could hide for a sentence in the province. Justice would have found them.

So, why would implementation of death sentences have taken into account local sensitivities?
 
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