Imprisonment while the case was undergoing investigation
was the rule; the accused might, however, be released on bail.
Torture to compel confession was only applied to slaves.
convicted of having broken the public peace expiated his offence with
his life. The modes of inflicting capital punishment were various:
the false witness, for example, was hurled from the stronghold-rock;
the harvest-thief was hanged; the incendiary was burnt. The king
could not grant pardon, for that power was vested in the community
alone; but the king might grant or refuse to the condemned permission
to appeal for mercy (-provocatio-).
In addition to this, the law
recognized an intervention of the gods in favour of the condemned
criminal. He who had made a genuflection before the priest of
Jupiter might not be scourged on the same day; any one under fetters
who set foot in his house had to be released from his bonds; and
the life of a criminal was spared, if on his way to execution he
accidentally met one of the sacred virgins of Vesta.