In the time of the Romans, the punishment for patricide was to be sewn up in a sack that had a monkey,
snake, rooster, and dog inside, and then to be thrown in a river. Each of the animals in the bag had some
specific meaning to them, and being sewn up in a sack and tossed into the river also had a specific function
to the murderer. Thus this punishment became the proper way to punish the guilty.
In the Roman era, patricide had become a major problem, so it was decided that for whomever
held a title in Rome, there would be a meeting to discuss how to get rid of the problem and punish
appropriately. The title holders decided that the best way to punish the young men, and to stop them from
thinking of committing the sin, was to make them die, as well as make them feel everything their father
had, and to regret their crime. This decision then became the chosen consequence for the crime of
The significance of the animals was to torture the perpetrator in a particular way for his crime. The
importance of the snake was that the snake was evil, dating back to the Garden of Eden, where it posed as
the Devil and deceived Eve. While the victim was alive, the snake would be there to remind him of the
ultimate sin-the deception of one’s own father. The rooster is primarily known for his crowing, and thus
his crows would remind the sinner of his guilt, so that he couldn’t escape from what he did. The dog’s
function in the sack would be to howl, not only to be deafening and frightening, but also to evoke the wrath
of the gods upon him. The monkey represents torture, because it is capable of mimicking human actions.
It would mimic the son’s behavior and re-enact the murder of the son’s All four of these animals perform
at least one role in torturing the boy, and so that he would be forced to think about what he had done to his
The purpose of the sack was to increase tenfold the agony which his father suffered, and also to
make him regret his decision to kill his father. With each passing moment, the torment would get
progressively worse, so that the boy would get a taste of the Hell that was to be his afterlife, as punishment
for committing patricide. The sack represented a way in which to make the boy suffer much more, and
quickly before he drowned.
The son was thrown into the river so that he could feel the way his father’s panic when he killed
him. The water would serve to scare the son in the way his father felt when he realized that his own son
had turned on him. The sewn sack would prevent the son’s escape so he would realize there would be no
turning back from his actions.
These different elements of punishment combined to make the murderer truly suffer each aspect of
the crime through the torture. The closed sack with animal reminders of different aspects of the murder
would serve as a deterrent to living observers. This ritual is a fitting punishment for the crime.