He was then, as Plautus tells us, fastened with four nails to the wood of the cross ("Lact.", IV, 13; Senec., "Vita beat.", 19; Tert., "Adv.Jud.", x; Justus Lipsius "De Cruce", II, vii; xli-ii).The crucifixion of living persons was not practised among the Hebrews; capital punishment among them consisted in being stoned to death, e.g. But when Palestine became Roman territory the cross was introduced as a form of punishment, more particularly for those who could not prove their Roman citizenship; later on it was reserved for thieves and malefactors (Josephus, Antiq., XX, vi, 2; Bell. Though not infrequent in the East, it was but rarely that the Greeks made use of it. Certain Greeks who had befriended the Carthaginians were crucified near Motya by order of Dionysius of Syracuse (Diodor. Both in Greece and in the East the cross was a customary punishment of brigands (Hermann, Grundsätze und Anwendung des Strafrechts, Göttingen, 1885, 83).It was at Rome, however, that from early republican times the cross was most frequently used as an instrument of punishment, and amid circumstances of great severity and even cruelty.These pre-Christian figures of the cross have misled many writers to see in them types and symbols of the manner in which Jesus Christ was to expiate our sins.Such inferences are unwarranted, being contrary to the just rules of criticism and to the exact interpretation of ancient monuments. The stake and the gibbet were more common, the criminal being suspended on them or bound to them, but not nailed.In fact, some have sought to attach to the widespread use of this sign, a real ethnographic importance. 178-179); finally among the ancient Germans, on a rock-carving in Sweden, on a few Celtic stones in Scotland, and on a Celtic stone discovered in the County of Norfolk, England, and now in the British Museum.
De Mortillet is of opinion that such use of the sign was not merely ornamental, but rather a symbol of consecration, especially in the case of objects pertaining to burial.The swastika sign is seen on Hittite monuments, e.g. In the Island of Cyprus it is found on earthenware vessels. 2, II, 178-179), and in the treasury of Orchomenus. From the earliest times also it appears among the hieroglyphic signs symbolic of life or of the living, and was transliterated into Greek as ).on a cylinder ("The monuments of the Hittites" in "Transactions of the Soc. It originally represents, as again at Athens and Mycenæ, a flying bird. II, 302 sqq.; "Hercule assyrien", 377-380; Minervini in "Bull. It seems to have been unknown in Assyria, in Phnicia, and in Egypt. There are many such emblems on the urns found at Capanna di Corneto, Bolsena, and Vetulonia; also in a Samnite tomb at Capua, where it appears in the centre of the tunic of the person there depicted (Minervini, Bull. But the meaning of this sign is very obscure (Da Morgan, Recherches sur les origines de l'Egypte, 1896-98); perhaps it was originally, like the swastika, an astronomical sign.Hüschke, however (Die Multa), does not admit that it was originally a servile punishment.It was inflicted also, as Cicero tells us (XIII Phil., xii; Verr., V, xxvii), on provincials convicted of brigandage.