From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

CRUCIFIXION. —Crucifixion was originally an Oriental punishment. It was practised by the Persians (Herod. ix. 122), by the Phœnicians and their colonists the Carthaginians (Valer. ii. 7), and by the Egyptians (Thuc. iv. 110). It was practised also by the Greeks, probably in imitation of the Persians (Plut. Alex . [Note: Alexandrian.] 72. § 2), and by the Romans, who, though Cicero ascribes its introduction to Tarquinius Superbus, probably learned it from their enemies the Carthaginians. Regarding it, however, as an ignominious doom, the Romans reserved it for slaves (whence it was called servile supplicium ), the worst sort of criminals such as robbers (Sen. Ep. vii.), and provincials. To inflict it on a Roman citizen was reckoned an impiety (Cic. in Verr . v. 66). It was a horrible punishment. Cicero designates it crudelissimum teterrimumque supplicium . The verb cognate to crux , ‘cross,’ was cruciare , ‘to torture’ (cf. ‘excruciating’).

There were two kinds of cross:

1. The crux simplex , which was a single stake. Sometimes the victim was fastened to it by his hands and feet, the former being extended above his head. Usually, however, it was a sharpened stake (σκόλοψ), and the victim was impaled upon it. It passed through the length of his body, issuing from his month. Cf. Sen. Ep. xiv.: ‘adactum per medium hominem qui per os emergat stipitem’; cf. de Consol. ad Marc. xx. The former method was called affixio , the latter infixio .

2. The crux compacta , which was composed of two pieces. It had three forms: (1) The crux decussata X , called also the crux Andreana , because it is said to be the cross on which St. Andrew suffered at Patrae. It was this form of cross that the Fathers had in view when in the crossing of Jacob’s hands as he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh ( Genesis 48:13-14) they saw a prophecy of the Crucifixion. Cf. Tert. de Bapt . § 8; Isid. Pel. Epp . i. 362. (2) The crux commissa or St. Anthony’s cross, resembling the letter T . Cf. Barn. Ep. § 9; Luc. Jud. Vocal . § 12. The upright was called stipes or staticulum , and the transom patibulum or antenna . (3) The crux immissa , which had the top of the upright protruding above the transom,  ; From the middle of the upright there projected a peg, the seat ( sedile ) or horn ( cornu ), on which, to support its weight, the body rested as on a saddle. Cf. Iren. adv. Haer. ii. 36. § 2: ‘Ipse habitus crucis fines et summitates habet quinque, duos in longitudine et duos in latitudine, et unum in medio in quo requiescat qui clavis affigitur’; Just. Mart. Dial. circa (about) Tryph . p. 318 C (ed. Sylburg.): τὸ ἐν τῷ μέσῳ πηγνύμενον ὡς κέρας καὶ αὐτὸ ἔξεχον ἐστίν, ἐφʼ ᾦ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ σταυρούμενοι.

It was generally assumed in early times that the cross on which Jesus suffered was a crux immissa . Thus Augustine ( in Psalm ., ciii. § 14) finds in  Ephesians 3:18 a mystic allusion to the cross: ‘breadth’ being the transom on which His hands were outstretched; ‘length,’ the upright on which His body was fastened; ‘height,’ the head of the upright protruding above the transom; ‘depth,’ the lower end buried in the earth. And it is a confirmation of this opinion that the board inscribed with His name and accusation was put up over His head ( Matthew 27:37), apparently on the projection of the upright.

The early Apologists fancifully defended the sacred symbol of the cross against the sneers of unbelievers by pointing to its appearance everywhere, as though nature and art alike did homage to it. It is seen in the quarters of the heaven, two transverse lines, as it were, running from N. to S. and from E. to W.; in a bird soaring upward with spread wings; in a man swimming or praying with outstretched hands; in the nose and eyebrows of the human face; in a ship’s mast and yard; in a galley’s oars projecting on either side; in the yoke of a plough and the handle of a spade; in the shape of trophies and fasces .* [Note: Mart. Apol. ii., ed. Sylburg. p. 90 C–E; Tert. Apol. § 16; Jer. on  Mark 15:21. Cf. Lips, de Cruc. i. ix.] See Tree.

The cruciarius was spared no circumstance of ignominy. He was required to carry the transom to the place of execution;† [Note: de Ser. Num. Vind. § 9; Artemidor. Oneir. ii. 61; Wetstein on  Matthew 10:38.] he was driven thither with goad and scourge along the most frequented streets, that the populace might profit by so signal an exhibition of the terrors of justice; and a herald went before, bearing a board whereon the victim’s name and offence were inscribed.‡ [Note: HE v. 1; Lightfoot on  Matthew 27:31.] Thus burdened and tormented, Jesus went His sorrowful way from the Praetorium till He reached the gate of the city ( Matthew 27:32); and there His strength failed, and He could go no farther. Tradition has it that He fell. The soldiers relieved Him of His burden, and, impressing Simon of Cyrene, laid it on his shoulders. Even then Jesus was unable to walk unsupported, and had to be borne along to the scene of His crucifixion. Cf.  Mark 15:22 φέρουσιν αὐτόν.

On arrival at the place of execution (See Golgotha), four soldiers were told off by the centurion in charge to do the work (cf.  John 19:23). They proceeded in the customary way. First of all, the cruciarius was stripped naked, his garments being regarded as the rightful perquisites of his executioners.* [Note: Wetstein on  Matthew 27:35.] Then he was laid on his back over the transom and his hands fastened to either end. Thereafter the transom was hoisted on the upright and his feet were fastened to the latter. Usually the hands were nailed through the palms and the feet were fixed either by two nails, one through each instep, or by a single nail transfixing both through the Achilles tendon; sometimes, however, the hands and feet were simply tied.† [Note: Lips, de Cruc. ii. viii.] Though less painful at the moment, the latter was the more terrible method, since it protracted the victim’s sufferings. He hung till he died of hunger and exhaustion, or was devoured by birds and beasts of prey.‡ [Note: ib. xii.–xiii.] The hands of Jesus were certainly nailed, but it seems that His feet were only tied (cf.  John 20:20;  John 20:25;  John 20:27).§ [Note: Ευ. Petr. § 6: τότε ἀτέστασαν τοὺς ἥλους ἀτο͂ τὥν χειρῶν τοῦ Κυριου] The sole Evangelic authority for supposing that they were nailed is  Luke 24:39 [40], which is probably assimilated to  Psalms 22:16. From two circumstances, (1) that a soldier could reach the lips of Jesus with a short reed ( Matthew 27:48 =  Mark 15:36 =  John 19:29), and (2) that wild beasts could tear out the entrails of the cruciarius as he hung,|| [Note: | Cf. Lips. de Cruc. ii. xiii.] it appears that the cross was of no great height. It was enough if the feet cleared the ground.

There was a humane custom among the Jews, based on  Proverbs 31:6, that a potion of medicated wine should be administered to the cruciarii in order to deaden their sensibility. The merciful draught was provided by a society of charitable ladies in Jerusalem.¶ [Note: Lightfoot on  Matthew 27:34; Wetstein on  Mark 15:23. See art. Gall.] It was offered to Jesus ere the nails were driven through His hands, and He raised it to His thirsty lips; but on tasting what it was He would not drink it. What was His reason for rejecting it? It was not that the endurance of physical pain was necessary to the efficacy of His sacrificial death;** [Note: * Cf. Calv.: ‘Nam et haec pars sacriflcii et obedientiae ejus erat, languoris moram ad extremum usque sufferre.’] nor was it merely that He had a sentimental repugnance to the idea of dying in a state of stupefaction.†† [Note: † Cf. Dr. Johnson: ‘I will take no more physic, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.’] It was rather because He was bent on doing to the last the work which had been given Him to do. It was well for the penitent brigand that Jesus did not drink the potion.

It was usual for the victims of that frightful punishment, maddened by terror and pain, to shriek, entreat, curse, and spit at their execntioners and the bystanders;‡‡ [Note: ‡ Cf. Cic. in Verr. i. 3, pro Cluent. 66; Jos. BJ iv. vi. 1, vii. vi. 4; Sen. de Vit. Beat. 19.] but Jesus endured the torture meekly. A cry broke from His lips as they were hammering the nails through His hands; but it was a prayer—not an appeal to them for mercy on Himself, but an appeal to God for mercy on them: ‘Father, forgive them: for they know not what they are doing.’§§ [Note: §  Luke 23:34, an interpolation, but unquestionably an authentic fragment of the Evangelic tradition. Cf. Wfi, Notes.] The transom with its quivering load was hoisted on the upright, and there He hung, conscious of all that passed around Him. It is said that St. Andrew, as he hung upon his cross at Patrae, taught the people all the while;|||| [Note: ||| Ahdiae, Hist. Apost. iii. 41.] and Jesus also in His anguish was mindful of others. Two brigands had been crucified with Him, two of those outlaws who infested the steep road from Jericho to Jerusalem, and by their deeds of violence gave it the grim name of ‘the Ascent of Blood’ (cf.  Luke 10:30); and when one of them, recognizing the majesty of the meek Sufferer, turned to Him and prayed Him to remember him when He ‘came in his kingdom,’ He granted more than he sought, promising him a place that very day in Paradise. And He thought of His mother, as she stood by distracted with grief, and commended her to the care of the beloved disciple. While He hung, He was compassed with insults. The Jewish rulers, exulting in their seeming triumph, mocked Him, and the multitude joined in the poor sport. So did the soldiers who were charged with the duty of watching the crosses lest a rescue should be attempted.* [Note: Petron. Sat.: ‘Cruciarii unius parentes ut viderunt noctn laxatam custodiam, detraxere pendentem’; Jos. Vit. 75: three cruciarii taken down; one recovered from his wounds.] Heated by their labour, they were refreshing themselves from their jar of posea , the vinegar which was the only drink allowed to soldiers on duty (See Vinegar). Jesus was in their eyes a pretender to the Jewish throne, a rebel against the imperial government; and, hearing the gibes of the rulers, they joined in, and, holding up their cups in mock homage, drank His Majesty’s health ( Luke 23:36).

Crucifixion was a lingering doom. The victims sometimes hung for days ere they died of hunger, exhaustion, loss of blood, and the fever of their wounds,† [Note: Lips, de Cruc. ii. xii.] unless they were despatched either by a spear-thrust or by the coup de grace of the crurifragium , a brutality which the Romans practised usually on slaves, beating the life out of them by shattering blows with a heavy mallet.‡ [Note: ib. xiv.] It was, however, contrary to the Jewish law ( Deuteronomy 21:23;  Deuteronomy 21:23) that they should hang overnight; and it was the more necessary that the requirement should he observed in this instance, since the next day was not only the Sabbath but the Sabbath of the Paschal week, a day of special solemnity ( John 19:31). Therefore the rulers waited on Pilate, and requested that Jesus and the brigands might be despatched by the crurifragium , and their bodies taken down from the crosses ere 6 o’clock that evening, when the Sabbath would begin. Pilate consented, and the soldiers set about the brutal work. They despatched the two brigands, but when they came to Jesus, He was already dead. There was no need to strike Him with the mallet; but one of them, to ensure that He was really dead, drove his spear into His side. See Blood and Water.

The prominent characteristic of crucifixion was the ignominy of it (cf.  Galatians 3:13,  Hebrews 12:2). This constituted ‘the stumbling-block of the cross’ ( Galatians 5:11) in Jewish eyes. Since it was expected that the Messiah would be a glorious and victorious King, it seemed incredible that one who was slain, and not only slain but crucified, should be the Messiah. In the eyes of the NT writers, on the contrary, its very ignominy constituted its supreme suitability to the Messiah. It identified Him utterly with sinners, making Him a sharer in the worst extremity of their condition. St. John recognized a providential dispensation in the enslavement of the Jews to the Romans, inasmuch as it brought about the Crucifixion ( John 18:31-32). Had they been free, Jesus would have been stoned as a blasphemer; but since they were vassals of Rome, it was not lawful for them to put any one to death ( John 18:31). The Sanhedrin’s sentence had to be referred to the procurator. It was invalid without his ratification, and it was executed by his authority after the Roman manner.

It is remarkable that, unlike the mediaeval artists, who loved to depict the Man of Sorrows as He hung on the cross abused and bleeding, the Evangelists have drawn a veil over the scene, detailing none of the ghastly particulars, and saying merely: ‘They crucified him.’ They recognized in the Crucifixion not the triumph of human malice but the consummation of a Divine purpose—‘the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God’ ( Acts 2:23). At the moment all was dark to the disciples; but when their minds were illumined by the Holy Spirit, they saw not only ‘the sufferings that befell Messiah’ but ‘the glories that followed these’ ( 1 Peter 1:11). Their Lord had never seemed so kingly in their eyes as when He ‘reigned from the tree.’* [Note: To the LXX version of  Psalms 96:10 many codices add ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου after ὁ Κύριος ἑβασίλευσεν. So Old Lat. and Copt. versions, Just. Mart., Tert, Aug.; cf. Venant. Fortunat. Hymn. de Pass. Dom.:

‘Impleta sunt quae concinit

David fideli carmine,

Dicens: In nationibus

Regnavit a ligno Deus.’]

In early days, according to some authorities,  Luke 9:31 ran: ‘They were speaking of the glory which He was about to fulfil at Jerusalem.’† [Note: in Matth. lvii.: τὴν δόξαν ἣν ἒμδλλε σληροῦν ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ. τούτεστιν, τὸ πάθος καὶ τὸν σταυρόν. οὓτω γάρ αὑτὸ καλοῦσιν ἀεί. Euth. Zig. on  Matthew 17:3 : τινὰ δὲ τῶν βιβλίων οὑκ ἕξοδον ἀλλὰ δόξαν γρἀφουσι. δόξα γὰρ καλεῖται καὶ ὁ σταυρός.] So Chrysostom quotes the passage; and this is the constant conception of the NT. ‘We look upon Jesus,’ says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ‘because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour’ ( Hebrews 2:9; cf.  Philippians 2:8 f.).

Throughout His ministry Jesus recognized the inevitable necessity of His Passion. He had come to die. Cf.  Matthew 9:15 =  Mark 2:20 =  Luke 5:35;  Matthew 16:21 =  Mark 8:31 =  Luke 9:22;  Matthew 17:22-23 =  Mark 9:31 =  Luke 9:44;  Matthew 20:18;  Matthew 20:13 =  Mark 10:33-34 =  Luke 18:32-33. As early as the close of the 2nd cent. Celsus stumbled at the idea that Jesus foreknew and foretold all that happened to Him (Orig. circa (about) Cels. ii. 13). Strauss pronounces those intimations mere vaticinia ex eventu . A crucified Messiah was ‘to Jews a stumbliog-block and to Gentiles foolishness’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:23); and the Apostles, eager to remove ‘the stumbling-block of the Cross,’ represented the Crucifixion as no ignominious catastrophe, but ‘a link in a chain of higher knowledge, part of a Divine plan of salvation.’ Keim, on the other hand, regards the announcement as ‘the expression of a natural, reasonable, correct anticipation,’ suggested by the fate of the Baptist and the difficulties wherewith Jesus was beset. The definite details, however, must be pruned away. In point of fact, the Lord’s prescience of the end is insxtricably interwoven with the Gospel history. The cross was His goal, and He knew it all along.

Literature.—In addition to the works quoted in the art. and the standard Lives of Christ, reference may be made to Fairbairn, Studies in the Life of Christ , ‘The Crucifixion’; Newman, Selected Sermons , pp. 175–188; Liddon, Bampton Lect. 8 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 472 ff.; Farrar, Christ in Art , pp. 389–423; Dale, Atonement 7 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 436 ff.

David Smith.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]


1. Its nature . Crucifixion denotes a form of execution in which the condemned person was affixed in one way or another to a cross (Lat. crux ) and there left to die. The Gr. term rendered ‘cross’ in the Eng. NT is stauros ( stauroô = ‘crucify’), which has a wider application than we ordinarily give to ‘cross,’ being used of a single stake or beam as well as of a cross composed of two beams. The crucifixion of living persons does not meet us on OT ground (unless it be in   Ezra 6:11; see RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), though death by hanging does (  Esther 7:10 . The stauroô of LXX [Note: Septuagint.] here renders the Heb. talah = ‘to hang’); but the hanging up of a dead body, especially on a tree, is familiar ( Jos 10:26; cf.   1 Samuel 31:10 ,   2 Samuel 4:12;   2 Samuel 21:12 ), and is sanctioned by the Law (  Deuteronomy 21:22 ), with the proviso that a body thus hung, as something accursed, must be removed and buried before nightfall (  Deuteronomy 21:23 ). This enactment explains   John 19:31 ,   Galatians 3:13 , as well as the reff. in the NT to the cross as a tree (  Acts 5:30;   Acts 10:39;   Acts 13:29 ,   1 Peter 2:24 ).

2. Its origin and use . The origin of crucifixion is traced to the Phœnicians, from whom it passed to many other nations, including both Greeks and Romans. Among the latter it was exceedingly common, but was confined almost exclusively to the punishment of slaves, foreigners, or criminals of the lowest class, being regarded as incompatible with the dignity of any Roman citizen (cf. Cic. in Verr . i. 5, v. 61, 66). This explains why, as tradition affirms, St. Paul was beheaded, while St. Peter and other Apostles, like the Master Himself, were put to death on the cross.

3. Forms of the cross . The primitive form was the crux simplex a single post set upright in the earth, to which the victim was fastened; or a sharp stake on which he was impaled. The Roman cross was more elaborate, consisting of two beams, which, however, might be put together in different ways. Three shapes are distinguished: (1) The crux commissa (T), shaped like a capital T, and commonly known as St. Anthony’s cross; (2) the crux immissa (+), the form with which we are most familiar; (3) the crux decussata (X), shaped like the letter X, and known as St. Andrew’s cross. Early Christian tradition affirms that it was on (2) that Jesus died ( e.g. Iren. Hær . ii. 24, § 4; Justin, Trypho , 91); and this is confirmed by the statements of the Gospels as to the ‘title’ that was set above His head (  Matthew 27:37 ,   Mark 15:26 ,   Luke 23:38 ,   John 19:19 f.).

4. Method and accompaniments of crucifixion . These are very fully illustrated in the Gospel narratives of the death of Jesus, to which we shall now especially refer. Immediately after being condemned to the cross, a prisoner was brutally scourged. [In the case of Jesus the scourging appears to have taken place before His condemnation (  John 19:1 ), and to have been intended by Pilate as a compromise with the Jews between the death sentence and a verdict of acquittal (  Luke 23:22 ).] The cross-beam ( patibulum ), not the whole cross, was then laid on his shoulders, and borne by him to the place of execution, while his titulus (  John 19:19 f., Gr. titlos , Eng. ‘title’) or tablet of accusation hung around his neck, or was carried before him by a herald. If it was only the patibulum that Jesus carried, the probable failure of His strength by the way, leading to the incident of Simon the Cyrenian (  Matthew 27:32 ||), must be attributed not to the weight of His burden, but to sheer physical exhaustion aggravated by loss of blood through scourging, as well as to the anguish that pressed upon His soul.

Arrived at the place of execution, which both with the Romans and the Jews was outside of the city (see art. Golgotha), the condemned was stripped of his clothing by the soldiers detailed to carry out the sentence, who immediately appropriated it as their lawful booty ( Matthew 27:35 ||). He was then laid on the ground, the crossbeam was thrust beneath his shoulders, and his hands were fastened to the extremities, sometimes with cords, but more usually, as in the case of Jesus (  John 20:25 ,   Luke 24:39 f.; cf.   Colossians 2:14 ), with nails. The beam was next raised into position and securely fixed to the upright already planted in the ground. On the upright was a projecting peg ( sedile ) astride of which the victim was made to sit, thereby relieving the strain on the pierced hands, which might otherwise have been torn away from the nails. Finally the feet were fastened to the lower part of the upright, either with nails (  Luke 24:39 f.) or with cords.

The cross was not a lofty erection much lower than it is usually represented in Christian art (cf.  Matthew 27:48 ||). Hanging thus quite near the ground, Jesus, in the midst of His last agonies, was all the more exposed to the jeers and insults of the bystanders and passers-by. It was a custom in Jerusalem to provide some alleviation for the physical tortures and mental sufferings of the crucified by giving him a stupefying draught. This was offered to Jesus before He was nailed to the cross; but He refused to take it (  Matthew 27:34 ). He would drink every drop of the cup that His Father had given Him, and go on to death with an unclouded consciousness. But for this we could hardly have had those ‘Seven Words from the Cross’ which come to us like the glorious rays that shoot from a sun sinking in awful splendour.

In crucifixion the pains of death were protracted long sometimes for days. Even when the victims were nailed and not merely tied to the cross, it was hunger and exhaustion, not loss of blood, that was the direct cause of death. Sometimes an end was put to their sufferings by the crurifragium the breaking of their legs by hammer-strokes. It is not likely that in ordinary circumstances the Jews would induce a Roman governor to pay any attention to the law of   Deuteronomy 21:22 f. But, as the day following our Lord’s crucifixion was not only a Sabbath, but the Sabbath of Passover week, Pilate was persuaded to give orders that Jesus and the two robbers crucified along with Him should be despatched by the crurifragium and their bodies removed (  John 19:31 ). The soldiers broke the legs of the robbers first, but when they came to Jesus they found that He was already dead. One of them, either in sheer brutality or to make sure of His death, ran a spear into His side. The blood and water that gushed out (  John 19:34 , cf.   1 John 5:6;   1 John 5:8 ) have been held by some medical authorities to justify the opinion that the Saviour died of a broken heart. His death being certified, Joseph of Arimathæa, who had begged the body from Pilate, removed it from the cross and laid it in his own sepulchre (  Matthew 27:57 ff. ||).

J. C. Lambert.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

It is not certain where or when the practice of crucifixion originated, but it had been used as a method of execution long before the time of the Roman Empire. The Romans used it mainly against those accused of anti-government rebellion ( Luke 23:18-19). When the Jews wanted to get rid of Jesus, they knew that if they accused him to the Roman governor of treason, they could call for his crucifixion ( Luke 23:1-2;  Luke 23:20-21).

Jesus’ trial, before both the Jewish Council and the Roman governor, ignored many of the normal procedures, and was contrary to all accepted standards of justice ( Matthew 26:57-68;  Matthew 27:11-31; see Sanhedrin ; Pilate ). Once it became clear that Jesus was to be crucified, procedures followed a well established pattern.

The Bible gives no detailed description of the horrors that made crucifixion such a frightful sight, though it records the crucifixion story at length. This emphasizes the significance of the crucifixion as being central to the mission of Jesus and, indeed, to the entire history of the world ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-5;  Galatians 6:14;  1 Peter 2:24). (For the theological meaning of the crucifixion see Cross .)

Crucifixion was carried out in a public place outside the city ( Matthew 27:31;  Matthew 27:33;  Matthew 27:39;  John 19:20;  Hebrews 13:12), though the trial took place inside the city, usually at the governor’s headquarters ( Matthew 27:27; see Praetorium ). The condemned person was first of all flogged ( Matthew 27:26), and then led off through the city to be crucified ( Matthew 27:31;  Luke 23:27). He even had to carry the heavy piece of wood that formed the horizontal part of the cross on which he was to be crucified ( John 19:17). If he was so weak from the flogging that he collapsed under the load, another person was forced to carry it for him ( Matthew 27:32).

At the place of crucifixion the usual procedure was to nail the victim’s outstretched arms to the crosspiece, and then to lift this on to the vertical piece already fixed in the ground. The feet were then nailed ( Luke 24:39;  John 20:25). Though lifted up from the ground, the victim was close enough to the ground for people to read the accusation nailed to the cross above his head ( John 19:19-20). People could also give him drugged wine to deaden the pain, though when it was offered to Jesus he refused it ( Matthew 27:34).

The soldiers who carried out the crucifixion received the victim’s clothing ( John 19:23-24). To prevent any attempted rescue, soldiers remained at the cross till the victim was dead ( Matthew 27:54). This may have taken several days, so to hasten the death they sometimes broke the victim’s legs ( John 19:31). This was not necessary in the case of Jesus. When, after about six hours on the cross, he knew that he had finished the work he had come to do, he triumphantly committed his spirit to God, bowed his head, and died ( Mark 15:25;  Mark 15:33-34;  Mark 15:37;  Luke 23:46;  John 19:30).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Crucifixion. Crucifixion was in used among the Egyptians,  Genesis 40:19, the Carthaginians, the Persians,  Esther 7:10, the Assyrians, Scythains, Indians, Germans, and from the earliest times, among the Greeks and Romans. Whether this mode of execution was known to the ancient Jews is a matter of dispute. Probably, the Jews borrowed it from the Romans. It was unanimously considered the most horrible form of death.

Among the Romans, the degradation was also a part of the infliction, and the punishment, if applied to freemen, was only used in the case of the vilest criminals. The one to be crucified was stripped naked of all his clothes, and then followed the most awful moment of all. He was laid down upon the implement of torture. His arms were stretched along the cross-beams, and at the centre of the open palms, the point of a huge iron nail was placed, which, by the blow of a mallet, was driven home into the wood. Then through either foot separately, or possibly through both together, as they were placed one over the other, another huge nail tore its way through the quivering flesh.

Whether the sufferer was also bound to the cross, we do not know; but, to prevent the hands and feet being torn away by the weight of the body, which could not "rest upon nothing but four great wounds," there was, about the centre of the cross, a wooden projection strong enough to support, at least in part, a human body, which soon became a weight of agony. Then, the "accursed tree", with its living human burden, was slowly heaved up and the end fixed firmly in a hole in the ground. The feet were but a little raised above the earth. The victim was in full reach of every hand that might choose to strike.

A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly, - dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds, all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness.

The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries, especially of the head and stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and, while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them, the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst. Such was the death to which Christ was doomed. - Farrar's "Life of Christ ."

The crucified was watched, according to custom, by a party of four soldiers,  John 19:23, with their centurion,  Matthew 27:66, whose express office was to prevent the stealing of the body. This was necessary from the lingering character of the death, which sometimes did not supervene even for three days, and was, at last, the result of gradual benumbing and starvation. But for this guard, the persons might have been taken down and recovered, as was actually done, in the case of a friend of Josephus. Fracture of the legs was especially adopted by the Jews to hasten death.  John 19:31.

In most cases, the body was suffered to rot on the cross by the action of sun and rain, or to be devoured by birds and beasts. Sepulture [burial or internment] was generally, therefore, forbidden; but in consequence of  Deuteronomy 21:22-23, an express national exception was made in favor of the Jews.  Matthew 27:58. This accursed and awful mode of punishment was happily abolished by Constantine.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Exodus 21 Leviticus 20 Deuteronomy 21

This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in  Deuteronomy 21:23 .

This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging. In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring his escape from further punishment ( Luke 23:22;  John 19:1 ).

The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be clear ( Matthew 27:34 ). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca, the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity ( Matthew 27:48;  Luke 23:36 ), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst ( John 19:29 ). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two "malefactors" ( Isaiah 53:12;  Luke 23:32 ), and was watched by a party of four soldiers ( John 19:23;  Matthew 27:36,54 ), with their centurion. The "breaking of the legs" of the malefactors was intended to hasten death, and put them out of misery ( John 19:31 ); but the unusual rapidity of our Lord's death (19:33) was due to his previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type ( Exodus 12:46 ). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart, and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by the soldier's spear ( John 19:34 ). Our Lord uttered seven memorable words from the cross, namely, (1)  Luke 23:34; (2) 23:43; (3)  John 19:26; (4)  Matthew 27:46 ,  Mark 15:34; (5)  John 19:28;  John 19:30; (7)  Luke 23:46 .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

The most painful and the most degrading capital punishment, reserved for the worst crimes and for the lowest class of people. The Romans used a short beam fastened to a long upright one, on which was placed a piece of wood for the feet to rest on. Nails were driven through the hands and feet; but historians say that sometimes the feet were only tied. The torture was dreadful, and the thirst great; but in some cases life lasted three days, none of the vital parts being reached. The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus and of the two malefactors are the only cases named in scripture: crucifixion was not practised by the Jews. A stupefying draught was given to the prisoners, but the Lord refused it. He would drink the bitter cup to the dregs. It is clear from scripture, by His crying with a loud voice just before His death, that as stated in John's gospel ( John 10:18 ) He gave up His life.   Luke 23:46;  John 19:30 . The Lord referred to the manner of His death as being lifted up out of the earth, so that death by stoning would not have answered to this.  John 3:14;  John 8:28;  John 12:32 . We also read that He was made a curse for us; for "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."  Galatians 3:13;  Deuteronomy 21:23 . Thus did the blessed Lord in saving rebellious man go down to the very lowest form of death.

The crucifixion is used metaphorically to instruct those who are associated with Christ: of believers it is said their 'old man' is crucified with Him.  Romans 6:6 . Paul could say that he was crucified with Christ; and that by Christ the world was crucified to him, and he to the world.  Galatians 2:20;  Galatians 6:14 . He accepted the judgement of himself in the cross, and he was cut off from the world by the same means.

Webster's Dictionary [7]

(1): (n.) The state of one who is nailed or fastened to a cross; death upon a cross.

(2): (n.) Intense suffering or affliction; painful trial.

(3): (n.) The act of nailing or fastening a person to a cross, for the purpose of putting him to death; the use of the cross as a method of capital punishment.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(prop. Σταύρωσις , but in the N.T. the noun does not occur, the act being designated by some form of the verb Σταυρόω , to Apply The Cross ; once Προσπήγνυμι , to Fasten , i.e. to the cross,  Acts 2:23; the classical writers use Σταυροῦν , Ἀνασταυροῦν Σκολοπίζειν , Προσηλοῦν , and, less properly, Ἀνασκινδυλεύειν ; Cruci or Patibulo Afficere , Suffigere , or simply Figere [Tertull. De Pat. 3], Cruciare [Auson.] Ad Palun Alligare, Crucen Alicui Statuere, In Crucemn Agere, Tollere , etc.; the sufferer was called Cruciarius ). (See Passion).

I.' History . The variety of the phrases shows the extreme commonness of the punishment, the invention of which is traditionally ascribed to Semiramis. It was in use among the Egyptians (as in the case of Inarus, Thuc. 1:30; comp. Genesis xl, 19), the Carthaginians (as in the case of Hanno, etc., Val. Max. 2:7; Polyb. 1:86; Sil. Ital. 2:344; Plutarch, Paral . 24; Justin, 18:7; Hirt. Bell. Afric. 66), the Persians (Polycrates, etc.; Herod. 3, 125; 4:43; 7:194; Ctesias, Excerpt. 5; comp.  Esther 7:10), the Assyrians (Diod. Sic. 2:1), Scythians (id. 2:44), Indians (id. 2:18), Germans (possibly Tacit. Germ. 12), and very frequent from the earliest times (Livy, 1:26) among the Romans. Cicero, however, refers it, not (as Livy) to the early kings, but to Tarquinius Superbus (pro Rab. 4); Aurel. Victor calls it vetus vetersrinmumque (? teterr.) patibualorum supplicium. Both Κρεμᾶν and Suspendere (Ovid, Ibis , 299) refer to death by crucifxion; thus, in speaking of Alexander's crucifixion of 2000 Tyrians, Ἀνεκρέμασεν in Diod. Sic. answers to the Crucibus Affixus in Q. Curt. 4:4. The Greeks (Strabo, 14:647) and Macedonians (Appian, Mithr. 8; Curt. 7:11, 28; 9:8, 6) also sometimes resorted to this mode of punishment.

This accursed and awful mode of punishment was happily abolished by Constantine (Sozom. 1:8) probably towards the end of his reign (see Lipsius, De Cruce, 3, 15), although it is curious that we have no more definite account of the matter. Examples of it are found in the early part of that emperor's reign, but the reverence which, at a later period, he was led to feel for the cross, doubtless induced him to put an end to the inhuman practice (Aurel. Vict. Coes. 41; Niceph. 7:46; Firmic. 8:20). "An edict so honorable to Christianity," says Gibbon, "deserved a place in the Theodosian Code, instead of the indirect mention of it which seems to result from the comparison of the 5th and 18th titles of the 9th book" (ii. 154, note). (See Punishment).

II. As A Jewish Custom . Whether this mode of execution was known to the ancient Jews is a matter of dispute (see Bormitius, De Cruce Num Ebroeor. Supplic. Fuerit, Viteb. 1644; Chaufepie, in the Miscell. Duisb . 2:401 sq.). It is asserted to have been so by Baronius (Annal. 1, 34), Sigonius (De Rep.  Hebrews 6:8), etc., who are refuted by Casaubon (c. Baron. Exero. xvi), Carpzov (Apparat. Crit. p. 591). The Hebrew words said to allude to it are תָּלָה , talah' (sometimes with the addition of עִל הָעֵוֹ , "upon the tree;" hence the Jews in polemics call our Lord תלוי , and Christians עובדי תלוי , "worshippers of the crucified"), and יָקָע , Yaka , both of which in the A. Vers. are generally rendered "to hang" ( 2 Samuel 18:10;  Deuteronomy 21:22;  Numbers 25:4;  Job 26:7); for which Σταυρόω occurs in the Sept. ( Esther 7:10), and Crucifixerunt in the Vulg. ( 2 Samuel 21:6;  2 Samuel 21:9). The Jewish account of the matter (in Maimonides and the Rabbis) is, that the exposure of the body tied to a stake by its hands (which might loosely be called crucifixion) took place after death (Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in  Matthew 27:31; Othonis Lex. Rabb., s.v. Supplicia; Reland, Ant. 2:6; Sir T. Browne, Vulg. Errors, v. 21). Even the placing of a head on a single upright pole has been called crucifixion. This custom of crucifixion after death (which seems to be implied in  Deuteronomy 21:22-23) was by no means rare; men were first killed in mercy (Sueton. Coes .; Herod. 3, 125; Plutarch, Cleom. 38). According to a strange story in Pliny (36. 15, § 24), it was adopted by Tarquin as a post- mortem disgrace, to prevent the prevalence of suicide. It seems, on the whole, that the Rabbis are correct in asserting that this exposure is intended in Scripture, since the Mosaic capital punishments were four (viz., the sword, Exodus 21; strangling, fire, Leviticus 20; and stoning, Deuteronomy 21). Philo, indeed, says (De leg. spec.) that Moses adopted crucifixion as a murderer's punishment because it was the worst he could discover; but the passage in  Deuteronomy 21:23 does not prove his assertion. Probably, therefore, the Jews borrowed it from the Romans (Josephus, Ant. 20:6, 2; War, 2:12, 6; Life, 75, etc.), although there may have been a few isolated instances of it before (Josephus, Ant. 13:14, 2). (See Hanging).

It was unanimously considered the most horrible form of death, worse even than burning, since the "cross" precedes "burning" in the law-books (Lipsius, De Cruc. 2:1). Hence it is called crudelissimum teterrimumque supplicium (Cicero, Verr. v. 66), extrema poana (Apul. de Aur. Asin. 10), summum supplicium (Paul. Sent. v, tit. xxi, etc.); and to a Jew it would acquire factitious horror from the curse in  Deuteronomy 21:23. Among the Romans also the degradation was a part of the infliction, since it was especially a servile supplicium (Tacitus, Hist. 4:11; Juvenal, 6:218; Horace, Sat . 1:3, 8, etc.; Plautus, Passim ), or "a slave's punishment" ( De Infasmi Quo Chr. Adfectus Est Cru. Supp ., in Lange's Observatt. Sacr . [Lubec, 1731], p. 151 sq.; also Hencke, Opusc. p. 137 sq.), so that even a freedman ceased to dread it (Cicero, pro Rab. 5); or if applied to freemen, only in the case of the vilest criminals (Joseph. Ant. 17:10, 10; War, 5:11, 1; Paul. Sent. v, tit. xxiii; Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 23), such as persons guilty of robbery, piracy (Seneca, Ep. vii; Cicero, Petron. 71), assassination, perjury (Firmic. 6:26), sedition, treason, and (in the case of soldiers) desertion (Dion, v. 52; Joseph. Ant. 13:22; Apuleius, Asin. 3). Indeed, exemption from it was the privilege of every Roman citizen by the jus civitatis (Cicero, Verr. 2:1, 3). Our Lord was condemned to it by the popular cry of the Jews ( Matthew 27:23, as often happened to the early Christians) on the charge of sedition against Caesar ( Luke 23:2), although the Sanhedrim had previously condemned him on the totally distinct charge of blasphemy. Hundreds of Jews were crucified on the former charge, as by Floras (Joseph. War, 2:14, 9) and Varus, who crucified 2000 at once ( Ant. 17:10, 10). (See Execution).

III. Process . The scarlet robe, crown of thorns, and other insults to which our Lord was subjected, were illegal, and arose from the spontaneous petulance of the brutal soldiery. But the punishment properly commenced with scourging, after the criminal had been stripped; hence, in the common form of sentence, we find "summove, lictor, Despolia , verbera," etc. (Livy, 1:26). For this there is a host of authorities Livy, 26:13; Q. Curt, 7:11; Lucan, de Piscat. 2; Jerome, Comment. ad  Matthew 27:26, etc. It was inflicted, not with the comparatively mild virgae, but the more terrible flagellum (Horace, Sat. 1:3; comp.  2 Corinthians 11:24-25), which was not used by the Jews ( Deuteronomy 25:3). Into these scourges the soldiers often stuck nails, pieces of bone, etc., to heighten the pain (the Μάστιξ Ἀστραγαλωτή mentioned by Athenaeus, etc.; Flagrum Pecuinis Ossibus Catenatumn , Apul.), which was often so intense that the sufferer died under it (Ulp. De Poenis , 1, 8). The scourging generally took place at a column, and the one to which our Lord was bound is said to have been seen by Jerome, Prudentius, Gregory of Tours, etc., and is shown at several churches among the relics. In our Lord's case, however, this infliction seems neither to have been the legal scourging after the sentence (Val. Max. 1:7; Josephus, War, 5:28; 2:14, 9), nor yet the examination by torture ( Acts 22:24), but rather a scourging Before the sentence, to excite pity and procure immunity from further punishment ( Luke 23:22;  John 19:1); and if this view be correct, the reference to it ( Φραγέλλωσας ) in  Matthew 27:26, is retrospective, as so great an anguish could hardly have been endured twice (see Poli Synopsis , ad loc.). How severe it was is indicated in prophecy ( Psalms 35:15;  Isaiah 1:6). Vossius considers that it was partly legal, partly tentative (Harm. Pass.v. 13). (See Scourge).

The criminal carried his own cross, or, at any rate, a part of it (Plutarch, De iis qui sero, etc., 9; Artemid. Oneirocr. 2:61; see  John 19:17; comp. "patibulum ferat per urbem, deinde affigatur cruci," Plaut. Carbonar .). Hence the term Furcifer , cross-bearer (q.v.). This was prefigured by Isaac carrying the wood in  Genesis 22:6, where even the Jews notice the parallel; and to this the fathers fantastically applied the expression in  Isaiah 9:6, "the government shall be upon his shoulder." They were sometimes scourged and goaded on the way (Plaut. Mostel . 1:1, 52). "In some old figures we see our Lord described with a table appendent to the fringe of his garment, set full of nails and pointed iron" (Jeremiah Taylor, Life Of Christ , 3, 15:2; Haerebas Ligno Quod Tuteras , Cypr. De Pas . p. 50). (See Simon (Of Cyrene).)

The place of execution was outside the city ("post urbem," Cicero, Verr. v. 66; "extra portam," Plaut: Mil.  Galatians 2:4;  Galatians 2:6; comp.  1 Kings 21:13;  Acts 7:58;  Hebrews 13:12; and in camps "extra vallum"), often in some public road (Quinct. Decl . 275) or other conspicuous place like the Campus Martins (Cicero, Pro Rabirio ), or some spot set apart for the purpose (Tacitus, Ann. xv). This might sometimes be a hill (Val. Max. vi); it is, however, rather an inference to call Golgotha a Hill ; in the Evangelists it is called " A Place " ( Τόπος ). (See Calvary).

Arrived at the place of execution, the sufferer was stripped naked (Artemidorus, Oneirocr . 2:58), the dress being the perquisite of the soldiers ( Matthew 27:35; Dig. 48:20, 6); possibly not even a cloth round the loins was allowed him; at least among the Jews the rule was "that a man should be stoned naked" (Sanhedr. 6:3), where the context shows that "naked" must not be taken in its restricted sense. The cross was then driven into the ground, so that the feet of the condemned were a foot or two above the earth (in pictures of the crucifixion the cross generally much too large and high), and he was lifted upon it (agere, excurrere, tollere, ascendere in crucenm; Prudent. Περὶ Στεφ .; Plautus, Mostel . " Crucisalus ;" id. Bacch. 2, 3, 128; Ἀνῆγον , ῏Ηγον , ῏Ηγον Εἰς Ἄκρον Τέλος , Greg . Naz .), or else stretched upon it on the ground, and then lifted with it, to which there seems to be an allusion in a lost prophecy quoted by Barnabas ( Ep. 12), Ὅταν Ξύλον Κλιθῇ Καὶ Ἀναστῇ (Pearson, On The Creed , Acts 4). The former method was the commoner, for we often read (as in  Esther 7:10, etc.) of the cross being erected beforehand In Terrorem . Before the nailing or binding took place, a medicated cup was given out of kindness to confuse the senses and deaden the pangs of the sufferer ( Proverbs 31:6), usually of bitter wine ( Οϊ v Νος Ἐσμυρμισμένος or Λελιβανωμένος ), as among the Jews (Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. ad latt. xxvii), because myrrh was soporific. Other bitter herbs were also employed (Pipping, Exercit. Acad. p. 55). Our Lord refused it that his senses might be clear ( Matthew 27:34;  Mark 15:23; Maimonides, Sanhed . xiii). Matthew calls it "vinegar mingled with gall" ( Ὄξος Μέτα Χολῆς , הֹמֶוֹ ), an expression used in reference to Psalm 79:21, but not strictly accurate. This mercifully intended draught must not be confounded with the spoonful of vinegar (or posca, the common drink of Roman soldiers, Spart. Hadr.; Plaut. Mil. Gl. 3, 2, 23), which was put on a hyssop-stalk and offered to our Lord in mocking and contemptuous pity ( Matthew 27:48;  Luke 23:36); this he tasted to allay the agonies of thirst ( John 19:29).

The body was affixed to the cross by nails (see Corn. Curtius, De clavis Domini, Antw. 1760) driven into the hands, and more rarely into the feet; sometimes the feet were fastened by one nail driven through both (Tertull. adv. Jud. x; Senec. De Vita Beat. 19; Lactant. 4:13). The feet were occasionally bound to the cross by cords; and Xenophon asserts that it was usual among the Egyptians to bind in this manner not only the feet, but the hands. An inscription (titulus) was written upon a small tablet ( Σανίς , Socrat. Hist.  Ecclesiastes 1:17) declaring the crime (see Alberti , De Inscript. Crucis Chr . Lips. 1725), and placed on the top of the cross (Sueton. Cal . 38; Dom. 10; Euseb. Hist. Eccles.v. 1). The body of the crucified person rested on a sort of seat ( Πῆγμα ) (Iren. Adv. Haer . 2:42). The criminal died under the most frightful sufferings so great that even amid the raging passions of war pity was sometimes excited. Josephus ( War, 5:11, 1) narrates of captives taken at the siege of Jerusalem that "they were first whipped, and tormented with all sorts of tortures, and then crucified before the walls of the city.,The soldiers, out of the wrath and the hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught one after one way and another after another to crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great that room was wanting for the crosses and crosses wanting for the bodies. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly pity them." Sometimes the suffering was shortened and abated by breaking the legs of the criminal crura fracta (Cicero, Philippians 13:12). The execution took place at the hands of the carnifex, or hangman, attended by a band of soldiers, and in Rome under the supervision of the Triumviri Capitales (Tacit. Ann. 15:60; Lactant. 4:26). The accounts given in the Gospels of the execution of Jesus Christ are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the Romans in this particular (Tholuck, Glaubwurdigkeit der evangel. Gesch. p. 361).

Our Lord was crucified between two "thieves" ( Λῃσταί , Robbers ) or "malefactors" (then so common in Palestine, Josephus, War, 2:6, etc.), according to prophecy ( Isaiah 53:12); and was watched according to custom by a party of four soldiers ( John 19:23), with their centurion ( Κουστωδία ,  Matthew 27:66; Miles Qui Cruces Assurabat , Petr. Sat . 3, 6; Plutarch, Vit. Cleom. 38), whose express office was to prevent the surreption of the body (Seneca, Ep. 101). This was necessary from the lingering character of the death, which sometimes did not supervene even for three days and was at last the result of gradual benumbing and starvation (Euseb. 8:8; Seneca, Proverbs 3). But for this guard, the persons might have been taken down and recovered, as was actually done in the case of a friend of Josephus, though only one survived out of three to whom the same careful nursing ( Θεραπεία Ἐπιμελεστάτη ) was applied ( Life, 75). Among the Convulsionnaires in the reign of Louis XV, women would be repeatedly crucified, and even remain on the cross three hours; we are told of one who underwent it twenty-three times ( Encycl. Metr ., s.v. Cross); the pain consisted almost entirely in the Nailing , and not more than a basinful of blood was lost. Still we cannot believe from the Martyrologies that Victorinus (crucified head downward) lived three days, or Timotheus and Maura nine days (compare Bretschneider, in the Studien U. Krit., 1832, 2:625; Paulus, in the Darmnst. Kirchenszeit . 1833, No. 8, 9). Fracture of the legs (Plaut. Pan. 4:2, 64) was especially adopted by the Jews ( Deuteronomy 21:22) to hasten death ( John 19:31), and it was a mitigation of the punishment (Casaub. Exerc. Antib . p. 537), as observed by Origen. But the unusual rapidity of our Lord's death was due to the depth of his previous agonies (which appears from his inability to bear his own cross far), and to his mental anguish (Sch Ö ttgen, Hor.  Hebrews 6:3; De Pass. Messioe ), or it may be sufficiently accounted for simply from peculiarities of constitution. There is no need to explain the "giving up of the ghost" as a miracle ( Hebrews 5:7?), or say with Cyprian, Prevento Carnifcis Offcio, Spiritum Sponte Cimisit (Adv. Demetr ). Still less can the common cavil of infidelity be thought noteworthy, since, had our Lord been in a swoon, the piercing of his pericardium (proved by the appearance of lymph and blood) would have ensured death. (See Eschenbach, Opusc. Med. de Servatore non apparenter sed vere mortuo, and Gruner, De morte Christi non synoptica, quoted by Jahn in his Bibl. Arch.) (See below.) Pilate expressly satisfied himself of the actual death by questioning the centurion ( Mark 15:44); and the omission of the breaking of the legs in this case was the fulfillment of a type ( Exodus 12:46). Other modes of hastening death were by lighting fires under the cross (hence the nicknames Sarmentitii and Semaxii, Tert. Apolog. 50), or letting loose wild beasts on the crucified (Suet. Ner. 49).

Generally the body was suffered to rot on the cross (Cicero, Tusc. Q. 1:43; Sil. Ital. 8:486) by the action of sun and rain (Herod. 3, 12), or to be devoured by birds and beasts (Apul. de Aur. Asin. 6; Horace, Ep. 1:16, 48; Juvenal, 14:77). Sepulture was generally therefore forbidden (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 36:24), though it might be granted as a special favor or on grand occasions (Up. 1. 9, De off. Pascons.). But, in consequence of  Deuteronomy 21:22-23, an express national exception was made in favor of the Jews ( Matthew 27:58; comp. Joseph. War, 4:5, 2).

'''Iv.''' Pathology It only remains to speak of the manner of death, and the kind of physical suffering endured, which we shall very briefly abridge from the treatise of the physician Richter (in Jahn's Bibl. Arch .) These are,

1. The unnatural position and violent. tension of the body, which cause a painful sensation from the least motion.

2. The nails, being driven through parts of the hands and feet which are full of Nerves and Tendons (and yet at a distance from the heart), create the most exquisite anguish.

3. The exposure of so many wounds and lacerations brings on inflammation, which tends to become gangrene, and every moment increases the poignancy of suffering.

4. In the distended parts of the body more blood flows through the arteries than can be carried back into the veins: hence too much blood finds its way from the aorta into the head and stomach, and the blood-vessels of the head become pressed and swollen. The general obstruction of circulation which ensues causes an internal excitement, exertion, and anxiety more intolerable than death itself.

5. The inexpressible misery of Gradually Increasing and lingering anguish. To all this we may add, 6. Burning and raging thirst.

Death by crucifixion (physically considered) is therefore to be attributed to the sympathetic fever which is excited by the wounds, and aggravated by exposure to the weather, privation of water, and the painfully constrained position of the body. Traumatic fever corresponds, in intensity and in character, to the local inflammation of the wound. In the first stage, while the inflammation of the wound is characterized by heat, swelling, and great pain, the fever is highly inflammatory, and the sufferer complains of heat, throbbing headache, intense thirst, restlessness, and anxiety. As soon as suppuration sets in, the fever somewhat abates, and gradually ceases as suppuration diminishes and the stage of cicatrization approaches. But if the wound be prevented from healing, and suppuration continue, the fever assumes a hectic character, and will sooner or later exhaust the powers of life. When, however, the inflammation of the wound is so intense as to produce mortification, nervous depression is the immediate consequence; and if the cause of this excessive inflammation of the wound still continues, as is the case in crucifixion, the sufferer rapidly sinks. He is no longer sensible of pain, but his anxiety and sense of prostration are excessive; hiccough supervenes, his skin is moistened with a cold clammy sweat, and death ensues. It is in this manner that death on the cross must have taken place in an ordinarily healthy constitution. The wounds in themselves were not fatal; but, as long as the nails remained in them, the inflammation must have increased in intensity until it produced gangrene. The period at which death occurred was very variable, as it depended on the constitution of the sufferer, as well as on the degree of exposure and the state of the weather. It may, however, be asserted that death would not take place until the local inflammation had run its course; and though this process may be much hastened by fatigue and the alternate exposure to the rays of the sun and the cold night air, it is not completed before forty-eight hours, under ordinary circumstances, and in healthy constitutions; so that we may consider thirty-six hours to be the earliest period at which crucifixion would occasion death in a healthy adult. It can not be objected that the heat of an Eastern climate may not have been duly considered in the above estimate, for many cases are recorded of persons having survived a much longer time than is here mentioned, even as long as eight or nine days. Eusebius (Hist. Ecclesiastes 3, 8) says that many of the martyrs in Egypt, who were crucified with their heads downward, perished by hunger. The want of water was a much more important privation. It must have caused the sufferer inexpressible anguish, and have contributed in no slight degree to hasten death.

Several eminent writers had occupied themselves with the physiology of our Savior's passion, if we may so express ourselves, before the "scientific" method of treating it was resorted to; such were Scheuchzer, Mead, Bartholinus, Vogler, Triller, Richter, and Eschenbach. But a much fuller and more exact investigation has since been made by the two Gruners, father and son, the latter of whom first wrote under the direction, and by the advice of the former. These earlier authors have collected all that medical analogies could furnish towards establishing the character of our Savior's sufferings and the reality of his death. "The pulmonary, and other veins and arteries about the heart and chest, by the abundance of blood flowing thither, and there accumulating, must have added frightful bodily suffering to the anguish of mind produced by the overpowering burden of our sins" (G. G. Richteri Dissertationes Qiatuor Medicoe, Gotting. 1775, p. 57). But this general suffering must have made a relative impression upon different individuals; and, as Charles Gruner well observes, the effect it produced upon two hardy and hardened thieves, brought out fresh from prison, must naturally have been very different from that on our Savior, whose frame and temperament were of a very opposite character; who had been previously suffering a night of tortures and restless fatigue; who had been wrestling with mental agony till one of the rarest phenomena had been caused a bloody sweat; who must have felt to the most acute degree of intensity all the mental aggravation of his punishment its shame and ignominy, and the distress of his pious mother, and few faithful friends (C. F. Gruneri Commentatio Antiquaria Medicoi de Jesu' Cristi rtorte vera non simulata, Halae, 1805, p. 30-45).

To these he might have added other reflections, as that our Savior was evidently weakened beyond other persons in similar circumstances, seeing he was not strong enough to carry his cross, as criminals led to execution were always able to do; and if the men whom we are answering suppose our Lord to have, only fallen into a trance from exhaustion, they have manifestly no right to judge from other cases, for in them even this did not occur. The younger Gruner goes minutely into all the smallest circumstances of the passion, examining them as objects of medical jurisprudence, and particularly takes cognizance of the stroke inflicted by the soldier's lance. He shows the great probability of the wound having been in the left side, and from below transversely upward; he demonstrates that such a stroke, inflicted by the robust arm of a Roman soldier, with a short lance, for the cross was not raised much from the ground, must, in any hypothesis, have occasioned a deadly wound. Up to this moment he supposes our Savior may have been still faintly alive, because otherwise the blood would not have flowed, and because the loud cry which he uttered is a symptom of a syncope from too great a congestion of blood about the heart. But this wound, which, from the flowing of blood and water, he supposes to have been in the cavity of the chest, must, according to him, have been necessarily fatal. Tirinus and other commentators, as well as many physicians, Gruner, Bartholinus, Triller, and Eschenbach, suppose this water to have been lymph from the pericardium.

Vogler (Physiologia Historie Passionis, Helmst. 1693, p. 44) supposes it to have been serum separated from the blood. But from the manner in which the apostle John mentions this mystical flow, and from the concurrent sentiment of all antiquity, we must admit something more than a mere physical event. Richter observes that the abundant gush of the blood and water, "non ut in mortuis fieri solet, lentum et grumosum, sed calentenm adhuc et flexilem; tamquam ex calentissimo misericordiae fonte," must be considered preternatural, and deeply symbolical. Christian Gruner goes over the same ground, and answers, step by step, the additional objections of an anonymous impugner. He shows that the words used by John to express the wound inflicted by the lance are often used to denote a mortal one; he proves that, even supposing the death of Christ to have been in the first instance apparent, the infliction of merely a slight wound would have been fatal, because, in syncope or trance arising from loss of blood, any venesection would be considered such (Vindicice Mortis Jesu Christi verce, p. 67, 77, sq.); and that, in fine, so far from the spices or unguents used in embalming, or the close chamber of the tomb, being fitting restoratives to a person in a trance, they would be the most secure instruments for converting apparent into real death, by suffocation.

To this we may add Eschenbach's observation (Scripta Medi.-biblica, Rostock, 1779, p. 128) that there is no well-recorded instance of syncope lasting more than one day, whereas here it must have lasted three; and also that even this period would not have been sufficient to restore to strength and health a frame which had undergone the shattering tortures of crucifixion and the enfeebling influence of syncope from loss of blood. A consideration not noticed by any of these authors seems to decide the point of the depth of the wound, and place beyond doubt that it could not be superficial, but must have entered the cavity. Our Savior distinguishes the wounds in his hands from that of his side by desiring Thomas to measure the former by his finger, and the latter by the insertion of his hand ( John 20:27). This, therefore, must have been of the breadth of two or three fingers on the outside. But for a lance, which tapered very gently from the point, to leave a scar or incision on the flesh of such a breadth, at least four or five inches must have penetrated into the body, a supposition quite incompatible with a superficial or flesh wound. Of course, this reasoning is with those who admit the entire history of the passion and subsequent appearance of our Savior, but deny his real death; and such are the adversaries of the Gruners.

It is not inappropriate here to introduce a case which may confirm some of the foregoing observations. It is an account of a crucified Mameluke, or Turkish servant, published by Kosegarten (Chrest. Arab. Lips, 1828, p. 63- 65), from an Arabic manuscript entitled "The Meadow of Flowers and the fragrant Odour." The narrative, after quoting the authorities, as is usual in Arabic histories, proceeds as follows "It is said that he had killed his master for some cause or other, and he was crucified on the banks of the river Barada [Burada], under the castle of Damascus, with his face turned towards the east. His hands, arms, and feet were nailed, and he remained so from midday on Friday to the same hour on Sunday, when he died. He was remarkable for his strength and prowess; he had been engaged with his master in sacred war at Askelon, where he slew great numbers of the Franks; and when very young he had killed a lion. Several extraordinary things occurred at his being nailed, as that he gave himself up without resistance to the cross, and without complaint stretched out his hands, which were nailed, and after them his feet: he in the meantime looked on, and did not utter a groan, or change his countenance, or move his limbs." Thus we see a person, in the flower of his age, remarkable for his hardihood and strength, inured to military fatigue, nay, so strong that we are told, in another part of the narrative, that "he moved his feet about, though nailed, till he loosened the fastenings of the nails, so that, if they had not been well secured in the wood, he would have drawn them out;" and yet he could not endure the suffering more than eight-and-forty hours. But the most interesting circumstance in this narration, and the illustration of the scriptural narrative principally in view, is the fact, not mentioned by any ancient describer of this punishment, that the principal torture endured by this servant was that of thirst, precisely as is intimated in the Gospel history ( John 19:28). For the Arabic narrator thus proceeds: "I have heard this from one who witnessed it and he thus remained till he died, patient and silent, without wailing, but looking around him to the right and to the left, upon the people. But he begged for water, and none was given him; and the hearts of the people were melted with compassion for him, and with pity on one of God's creatures, who, yet a boy, was suffering under so grievous a trial. In the mean time, the water was flowing around him, and he gazed upon it, and longed for one drop of it . . . and he complained of thirst all the first day, after which he was silent, for God gave him strength."

Various theories have therefore been proposed to account for the speedy death of Christ upon the cross. That it did not occur simply and directly from the crucifixion is evident from the above statements, and from the surprise of Pilate that it had taken place so soon, when the thieves crucified at the same time had not expired. The usual theory attributes his sudden death to a voluntary surrender of his own life, which is supposed to be favored by the expression "yielded or gave' up the ghost," Ἀφῆκε [ Παρέδωκε ] Τὸ Πνεῦμα ,  Matthew 27:50;  John 19:30), and also by his declarations concerning his "laying down his life" ( Τίθημι Τὴν Ψυχήν ,  John 10:11;  John 10:15;  John 10:17). But, aside from the inappositeness of these passages (the same terms being often used of ordinary decease and of voluntary submission to a violent death), this view is derogatory to the character of Christ (who is thus, in effect, made a suicide), and inconsistent with the expressions concerning the guilt of his murderers (who are thus made only accessories or assistants). The most probable explanation of the sudden death of Christ is that proposed and extensively argued by Dr. Stroud (Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ, Lond. 1847), who attributes it to a proper rupture of to heart, a pathological accident, which he thus describes (p, 88): "The immediate cause is a sudden and violent contraction of one of the ventricles, usually the left, on the column of blood thrown into it by a similar contraction of the corresponding auricle. Prevented from returning backward by the intervening valve, and not finding a sufficient outlet forward in the connected artery, the blood reacts against the ventricle itself, which is consequently torn, open at the point of greatest distention, or least resistance, by the influence of its own reflected force. A quantity of blood is hereby discharged into the pericardium, and, having no means to escape from that capsule, stops the circulation by compressing the heart from without, and induces almost instantaneous death. In young and vigorous subjects, the blood thus collected in the pericardium soon divides into its constituent parts, namely, a pale, watery liquid called serum, and a soft clotted substance of a deep red color, called crassamentum; but, except under similar circumstances of extravasation, this distinct separation of the blood is seldom witnessed in the dead body." This explanation meets all the circumstances of Christ's passion. The violence of his emotions was sufficient to burst open the heart, as Dr. Stroud shows by a multitude of examples of immediate death from sudden mental, affections; and this, as a secondary cause, is confirmed by the occurrence of the sanguineous perspiration in the garden from similar emotions. (See Bloody Sweat).

It explains the suddenness of Christ's death, so evident in all the evangelical narratives, as well as its early occurrence, so surprising to Pilate. The loud shrieks that immediately preceded dissolution were at once the expression of the mental paroxysm ( Matthew 27:50;  Mark 15:37), and the effort of nature to relieve the system from the sense of suffocation consequent upon the congestion of blood at the heart. This will also account for the presence of "water" (serum), as well as "blood" (crsassamentmnz), in a commingled yet distinct state, within the pericardium, and discharged at the orifice made by the soldier's spear ( John 19:34), since no blood would flow from a wound in a corpse's veins. (See Blood And Water).

V. Literature . An explanation of the other circumstances attending the crucifixion belongs rather to a commentary than a dictionary. The assertion of Paulus and others, that the feet were not nailed (Curtius, De Clavis Domini , Antw. 1670), is amply refuted by Winer ( De Pedum Affxione , Lips. 1845) and others. For the detailed incidents in our Savior's case, see JESUS; and compare Hase, Leben Jesul, § 115. On the types and prophecies of it, besides those adduced, see Cypr. Testim. 2:20. On the resurrection of the saints, see Lightfoot, ad.  Matthew 27:52 (there is a monograph by Gebaverius Dissert. De Resur. Sanctorum Cum Christo , in his Comment. Miscell . No. 6). (See Resurrection). On other concomitant prodigies, see Sch Ö ttgen, Hor. Heb. et Talmud. 6:3, 8. SEE DARKNESS; (See Earthquake). The chief ancient authorities may be found in Lipsius, De Cruce (Antwerp, 1589, 1594, and since); see also in Fabric. Bibliogr. Antiquar . (Hamb. 1760), p. 755 sq.; and especially Friedlieb, Archaologie Der Leidensgeschichte (Bonn, 1843). On the points in which our Lord's crucifixion differed from the ordinary Jewish customs, see Othonis Lex. Rabbinicum, S.V., Supplicia ; Bynseus, De Morte J. Christi ; Vossius, Harm. Passionis ; Carpzov, Apparat. Crit . p. 591, sq. etc.; Salmasius, De Cruce (L. B. 1646); Bartholinus, De latere Christi aperto (L. B. 1646); also De Cruce Christi (Amst. 1670, L. B. 1693); Zobel, in the Magaz. fur bibl. Interpret. 2:321 sq. (See Cross).

There are monographs in Latin on the following points connected with the subject: on the cross itself, by Baudissus (Viteb. 1673), Cellarius (Ziz. 1677), Cyprian (Helmst. 1699), Freiesleben (Jen. 1662), Germar (Thorun. 1787), Gezelius (Upsal. 1692), Gleich (Lips. 1704), Liperuis (Sedin. 1675), Ortlob (Viteb. 1655), Nihusius (Colon. 1644), Paschius (Viteb. 1686), Richter (Zittau, 1775), Verporten (Fracft. ad V. 1759), Gretser (Ingolst. 1598-1605), id. (ib. 1610), Lipsius (Antwerp, 1595, 1606, Amst. 1670), Bosius (Antw. 1617), Bornitius (Vit. 1644), Salmasius (L. B. 1646), Lange (Vit. 1669), Lamy (Ilarm. Ev. p. 573 sq.); on the crucifixion gen. erally, by Buddseus (Jen. 1707), Dilher (Norimb. 1642), Gerhard (Rost. 1662), Vogler (Helmst. 1693), Versteeg (Traj. ad Rh. 1700), Lydius (Dortrac. 1672, Zutphen, 1701), id. (Tr. ad R. 1701), Medhurst (Bibl. Brem. I, i; III, in), Margalitha (Freft. ad V. 1706), Merchenius (Duisb. 1722), two anonymous fasciculi (Dusseldorf, 1730), Westhovius (L. B. 1733), Sturm (Hal. 1763), Hessler (Sondersh. 1770), Fremery (1788), Zobel (in Germ. Mag. fur bibl. Interpret. 1:2), Essner (in Germ. Nilrnb. 1818), Jongh (Tr. ad Rh. 1827), Hug (in Germ. Freib. Zeitschr. 1831), Scharf (Leucop. 1606), Engelmann (Cygn. 1679), Haberkorn (Gress. 1656), Kor, tholt (Kilon. 1687), Pritius (Lips. 1697), Habichorst (Rost. 1681), Mieg (Heidelb. 1681), Niepeneck (Rost. 1700), Haferung (Viteb. 1739), Moebius (Lips. 1689), Scharf (Leucopetr. 1666), Stosch (Freft. ad V. 1759), Vitringa (Obss. sacr. 2:384 sq.); on the infamy of the punishment, by Henke (Helmst. 1785), Jetze (Starg. 1761), Lange (Lubec, 1729); on the time of Christ's crucifixion (in reconciliation of the discrepancy between  Mark 15:25, and  John 19:14), by Kieil (Lips. 1778-1780), Liebknecht (Giess. 1726), Michaelis (in Germ. Hamb. Bibl. 3, 2), Reyper (Thes. Diss. 2:241), Schwarz (Lips. 1778), Morinus (Lugd. B. 1686, 1698), Osiander (Tubingen, 143), Pauli (Halle, 1744, 1752), Woerger (in Menethen. Thesaur. 2:277), Wolf (Lips. 1750), Zeibich (in German, Lpz. 1713); Zeltner (three diss., Altorf. 1720, 1721, 1724), Knittel (in German, Wolfenb. 1755), Horn (Havn. 1780), Rhein (in Germ., Lpz. 1832); on Christ's thirst and drink on the cross, by Bauer (Viteb. 1714), Deyling (Obss. 1:227), Faber. (London, 1660), Hutten (Guben. 1671), Leo (Leucop. 1721), Neumann (Viteb. 1683), Pipping (Lips. 1688), Rausch (Jena, 1733), Schlegel (in German, Henke's Magaz. 4:288-291), Walch (Obss. in Maatth. p. 101-138); on his prayer for his murderers, by. March (Syll. Diss. p. 308, 328), Pfaff (Tub. 1746); on his despairing cry, by Hoepfner (Lips. 1641), Frischmuth (Jen. 1663), Niemann (Jen. 1671), Schearf (Vit. 1671), Lockerwitz (Viteb. 1680), Olearius (Lips. 1683), the same (ib. 1683, 1726), Deutschmann (Viteb. 1695), Winslow (Havre, 1706), Engestrom (Lund. 1738), Luger (Jena, 1739), Leucke (Lips. 1753), Weissmann (Tub. 1746), Sommel (Lund. 1774), Wickenhofer (in Germ., Zimmermann's Monatssch. 1822, No. 24); on his commending his spirit to the Father, by Wolle (Lips. 1726; again Gott. 1744); on his so-called "last seven words," by Froerysen (Argent. 1625), Dannhauer (ib. 1641), Lange (Lips. 1651), Mayer (Gryph. 1706), Criiger (Vit. 1726), Vincke (Tr. ad Rh. 1846); on the presence of Mary, by Zorn (Opusc. 2:316-322); on the perforation of the hands and feet, by Fontanus (Amst. 1641), Stemler (Dresd. 1741); on the puncture by the spear, by Sagittarius (Jena, 1673; also in Thes. Diss. Amst. 2:381-7), Bartholinus (L. B. 1646, Lips. 1664, 1683, Frcf. 1681), Faes (Helmst. 1676), Quenstedt (Viterb. 1678), Wedel (Jen. 1686), Jacobi (Lips. 1686), Suantenius (Rost. 1686), Loescher (Vit. 1697), Triller (Vit. 1775); on the discharge from the wound, by Kocher (Dresd. 1597), Ritter (Vit. 1687), Eschenbach (Rost. 1775), Calovius (Vit. 1679); on the medical aspects of the death, by Vogler (Helmstadt, 1673), Westphal (Grypesv. 1771), Richter (Gott. 1757), Kiesling (Erlang. 1767), Gruner (Sen., Jen. 1800, Jun., Hal. 1805), Stroud (in English, London, 1847), Bruhier (in French, Paris, 1749), Swieten (Vien. 1778), Hufeland (Germ., Weim. 1791), Taberger (Germ., Hannov. 1829); on the attestation of the by-standers, by Dietelmaier (Altdorf, 1749), Schottgen (German, in Bidermann's Schulsachen, in; 16). For other dissertations on associated incidents, (See Passover); (See Pilate); (See Mockery (Of Christ);) (See Crown (Of Thorns);) (See Thief (On The Cross);) (See Sabacthani); (See Eclipse); (See Earthquake); (See Vail); (See Centurion); (See Prisoner), etc.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [9]

Crucifixion was a most cruel and disgraceful punishment; the terms applied to it by ancient writers are, 'the most cruel and disgraceful,' 'the worst possible punishment,' 'the worst punishment in the world.' It was the punishment chiefly of slaves; accordingly the word 'cross-bearer' was a term of reproach for slaves, and the punishment is termed 'a slave's punishment.' Free-born persons also suffered crucifixion, but only those of low condition and provincials. Citizens could not be crucified. This punishment was reserved for the greatest crimes, as robbery, piracy, assassination, perjury, sedition, treason, and (in the case of soldiers) desertion. Its origin is ancient. In Thucydides we read of Inarus, an African king, who was crucified by the Egyptians. The similar fate of Polycrates, who suffered under the Persians, is detailed by Herodotus, who adds, in the same book, that no less than 300 persons were condemned to the cross by Darius, after his successful siege of Babylon. Valerius Maximus makes crucifixion the common military punishment of the Carthaginians. That the Greeks adopted it is plain from the cruel executions which Alexander ordered after the capture of Tyre, when 2000 captives were nailed to crosses along the sea-shore. With the Romans it was used under their early monarchical government, and was the death to which Horatius was adjudged for the stern and savage murder of his sister, where the terms employed show that the punishment was not at that time limited to any rank or condition. It appears also from the passage that scourging then preceded crucifixion, as undoubtedly was customary in later times. The column to which Jesus was fastened during this cruel infliction is stated by Jerome to have existed in his time in the portico of the holy sepulcher, and to have retained marks of his blood. The Jews received the punishment of crucifixion from the Romans. Though it has been a matter of debate, yet it appears clear that crucifixion, properly so called, was not originally a Hebrew punishment. The condemned, after having been scourged, had to bear their cross, or at least the transverse beam, to the place of execution, which was generally in some frequented place without the city. The cross itself, or the upright beam, was fixed in the ground. Arrived at the spot the delinquent was supplied with an intoxicating drink, made of myrrh and other bitter herbs, and having been stripped of his clothing, was raised and affixed to the cross, by nails driven into his hands, and more rarely into his feet; sometimes the feet were fastened by one nail driven through both. The feet were occasionally bound to the cross by cords, and Xenophon asserts that it was usual among the Egyptians to bind in this manner not only the feet but the hands. A small tablet, declaring the crime, was placed on the top of the cross. The body of the crucified person rested on a sort of seat. The criminal died under the most frightful sufferings—so great that even amid the raging passions of war, pity was sometimes excited. Sometimes the suffering was shortened and abated by breaking the legs of the criminal. After death, among the heathens, the bodies commonly remained on the cross till they wasted away, or were devoured by birds of prey. A military guard was set near the cross, to prevent the corpse from being taken away for burial; but among the Jews the dead body was customarily taken down and buried. The execution took place at the hands of the hangman, attended by a band of soldiers, and in Rome, under the supervision of the Triumviri Capitales. The accounts given in the Gospels of the execution of Jesus Christ are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the Romans in this particular. The punishment continued in the Roman Empire till the time of Constantine, when it was abolished through the influence of the Christian religion. Examples of it are found in the early part of the emperor's reign, but the reverence which, at a later period, he was led to feel for the cross, induced him to put an end to the inhuman practice.

Death by crucifixion (physically considered) is to be attributed to the sympathetic fever which is excited by the wounds, and aggravated by exposure to the weather, privation of water, and the painfully constrained position of the body. Traumatic fever corresponds, in intensity and in character, to the local inflammation of the wound. In the first stage, while the inflammation of the wound is characterized by heat, swelling, and great pain, the fever is highly inflammatory; and the sufferer complains of heat, throbbing headache, intense thirst, restlessness, and anxiety. As soon as suppuration sets in, the fever somewhat abates, and gradually ceases as suppuration diminishes and the stage of cicatrisation approaches. But if the wound be prevented from healing, and suppuration continue, the fever assumes a hectic character, and will sooner or later exhaust the powers of life. When, however, the inflammation of the wound is so intense as to produce mortification, nervous depression is the immediate consequence; and if the cause of this excessive inflammation of the wound still continues, as is the case in crucifixion, the sufferer rapidly sinks. He is no longer sensible of pain, but his anxiety and sense of prostration are excessive; hiccup supervenes, his skin is moistened with a cold clammy sweat, and death ensues. It is in this manner that death on the cross must have taken place, in an ordinarily healthy constitution. The wounds in themselves were not fatal; but, as long as the nails remained in them, the inflammation must have increased in intensity until it produced gangrene. De la Condamine witnessed the crucifixion of two women of those fanatic Jansenists called Convulsionnaires. One of them, who had been crucified thrice before, remained on the cross for three hours. They suffered most pain from the operation of extracting the nails; and it was not until then that they lost more than a few drops of blood from their wounds. After they were taken down, they seemed to suffer little, and speedily recovered. The probabilities of recovery after crucifixion would of course depend on the degree of constitutional irritation that had been already excited. Josephus relates that of three of his friends, for whom he had obtained a release from the cross, only one survived. The period at which death occurred was very variable, as it depended on the constitution of the sufferer, as well as on the degree of exposure and the state of the weather. It may, however, be asserted that death would not take place until the local inflammation had run its course; and though this process may be much hastened by fatigue and the alternate exposure to the rays of the sun and the cold night air, it is not completed before forty-eight hours, under ordinary circumstances, and in healthy constitutions; so that we may consider thirty-six hours to be the earliest period at which crucifixion would occasion death in a healthy adult. Many of the wounded at Waterloo were brought into the hospitals after having lain three days on the field, and even then sometimes recovered from severe operations. It cannot be objected that the heatof an Eastern climate may not have been duly considered in the above estimate; for many cases are recorded of persons having survived a much longer time than is here mentioned, even as long as eight or nine days. Eusebius says that many of the martyrs in Egypt, who were crucified with their heads downwards, perished by hunger. This assertion, however, must not be misunderstood. It was very natural to suppose that hunger was the cause of death, when it was known that no food had been taken, and when, as must have happened in lingering cases of crucifixion, the body was seen to be emaciated. But it has been shown above that the nails in the hands and feet must inevitably have given rise to such a degree of inflammation as to produce mortification, and ultimately death; and it is equally certain that food would not, under such circumstances, have contributed to support life. Moreover, it may be added that after the first few hours, as soon as fever had been fully excited, the sufferer would lose all desire for food. The want of water was a much more important privation. It must have caused the sufferer inexpressible anguish, and have contributed in no slight degree to hasten death. As-Sujuti, a celebrated Arabic writer, gives an interesting account of a young Turk who was crucified at Damascus A.D. 1247. It is particularly mentioned that his hands and feet were nailed, and even his arms (but not as if it was in any way remarkable). He complained of intense thirst on the first day, and his sufferings were greatly increased by his continually seeing before him the waters of the Barada, on the banks of which he was crucified. He survived two days, from the noon of Friday to the noon of Sunday.