XII.14 Breach of modesty in the punishment of crimes

There are rules of modesty obser­ved by nearly all the nations on earth ; it would be absurd to vio­late them in the punish­ment of cri­mes, which must always have as its end the re-esta­blish­ment of order.

Did the Orientals who expo­sed women to ele­phants trai­ned for an abo­mi­na­ble sort of tor­ture intend to make law vio­late the law ?

An old cus­tom of the Romans for­bade put­ting to death girls who were not yet nubile. Tiberius found the expe­dient of having them raped by the exe­cu­tio­ner before sen­ding them to their death.1 A subtle and cruel tyrant, he was des­troying mora­lity to pre­serve cus­toms.

When the Japanese magis­tracy had naked women expo­sed in the public square and made them walk in the man­ner of beasts, it made modesty trem­ble2 ; but when it tried to force a mother… when it tried to force a son… I can­not conti­nue : it made nature her­self trem­ble.3

Suetonius in Tiberius.

Recueil des voyages qui ont servi à l’établissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. V, part II.

Ibid., p. 496.