Often eclipsed by the brutal execution methods of the later medieval era, it’s easy to forget that those highly cultured Romans also engaged in some pretty rough treatment of their criminals and enemies. Crucifixion, anyone? Considering that this was a couple of thousand years before DNA testing, modern law enforcement techniques or even a half decent judicial system, they sure did put a lot of people to death. One form of execution was so cruel it would bring anyone out in a cold sweat. Or, rather, a searing hot sweat.
The sentence of death by ‘Tunica Molesta’ was handed to those convicted of arson – you would be burned for burning. Other crimes, such as treason, could also result in this method being proscribed. Simply put, a tunic was doused in naphtha or resin, put upon the condemned and set alight. Reminiscent of the brutal mob punishment of ‘necklacing’ (the lighting of a petrol-filled tyre placed around the neck of the victim), the proclamation of death by ‘Tunica Molesta’ must have been a terrifying thing to hear.