Montesquieu

Cecilius, in Aulus Gellius,1 dis­cour­sing on the law of the Twelve Tables, which allo­wed the cre­di­tor to cut the insol­vent deb­tor into pie­ces, jus­ti­fies it by its very atro­city, which pre­ven­ted peo­ple from bor­ro­wing beyond their means.2 Will the cruel­lest laws then be the best ones ? The good will be excess, and all the rela­tion­ships of things des­troyed ?

Book XX, ch. i.

Cecilius says that he has never seen nor read that this penalty had been inflicted, but it seems likely it was never instituted ; the opinion of some jurisconsults that the law of the Twelve Tables addressed only the division of the price of the sale of the debtor is very plausible.