PARRICIDE (probably for Lat. palricidia, from pater, father, and cacdere, to slay), strictly the murder of a parent; the term however has been extended to include the murder of any relative or of an ascendant by a descendant. The first Roman law against parricide was that of the Lex Cornelia de sicariis et venejicis (c. 81 B.C.), which enacted that the murderer of a parent should be sewed up in a sack and thrown into the sea, and provided other punishments for the kiUing of near relatives. The Lex Pompeia dc parrkidiis (52 B.C.) re-enacted the principal provisions of the Lex Cornelia and defined parricide as the deliberate and wrongful slaying of ascendants, husbands, wives, cousins, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, stepfathers and mothers, fathers and mothers-in-law, patrons and descendants. For the murder of a father, mother, grandfather or grandmother, the Lex Pompeia ordained that the guilty person should be whipped tQl he bled, sewn up in a sack with a dog, a cock, a viper and an ape, and thrown into the sea. Failing water, he was either to be torn in pieces by wild beasts or burned.
English law has never made any legal distinction between killing a parent or other relative and simple murder, and the Netherlands and Germany follow in the same direction. French law has been exceptionally severe in its treatment of parricide. Before the Revolution, the parricide if a male, had to make a recantation of his crime, and then suffered the loss of his right hand; his body was afterwards burned and the ashes scattered to the winds. If the parricide was a female she was burned or hanged. After the Revolution the penalty became simply one of death, but the compilers of the penal code adjudged this insufficient and reintroduced some of the previous provisions: the parricide was brought to the place of execution clad in a shirt, bare-footed, and the head enveloped in a black veil. While he was exposed on the scaffold, an cificer read aloud the decree of condemnation; the culprit then had his right hand cut off, and was immediately afterwards executed. On the revision of the penal code in 1832 the cutting ofi of the right hand was omitted, but the other details remained. Other continental European countries, following the example of France, treat the crime of parricide with exceptional severity.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)