(a thread from the comments)

No need to torture any servants. What a great doctor. Taking care of the rich bastards while tending to the staff. (grin)

Aww what the hey? Let the little emperor torture a few servants. It’s not often you get a chance like this, and maybe it’ll settle his own excess of bile. It’s better to torture servants than Citizens at any rate. Preferably faceless ones wearing red shirts.

Problem is, it’s like peanuts. Once you torture one, you’re gonna want to torture the whole household, then it’s sooo disappointing when you find out they didn’t poison anybody and you have no one to execute, I mean, sometimes it just makes you want to go out and execute a few senators or something, and your big brother and your know-it-all cousins won’t let you, and it’s Just Not Fair ::pout::

I believe that under roman law a slave’s testimony is inadmissible unless it has been obtained by torture. The thinking was that a slave could be ordered to lie and that the torture ensured the truth of the testimony.

Of course I could be wrong. That little tidbit I read a long long time ago.

You’re right, that’s pretty much accurate. Furthermore, if a slave was found guilty of murdering the master, every slave in the household was put to death. Adult, elderly, child, male, female, healthy, infirm, even if the slaves numbered in the hundreds, no matter. Sometimes mercy prevailed (or loopholes), but the belief was that this was the only effective way to ensure the safety of masters, and that it would be insanely dangerous not to inflict this punishment in every case. (Picture Dick Cheney’s recent exhortations for torture—feels like much the same sensibility and sense of stark fear.)

And then for some crimes there was one punishment for the common, poor free person (execution, a one-way trip to the mines), and a lesser one for the wealthy nobility (fines, temporary or permanent exile to someplace not necessarily unpleasant)…