September 18, 2006

"The 150 men ... were told to pick a copper ring from a cauldron of boiling oil."

"The council elders then announced that the 50 who refused the order must be behind the crime."

16 comments:

Steven said...

I'm now thinking of a case in Byzantine history (IIRC) where, as a trial-by-ordeal, a guy was told he'd have to carry a red-hot iron ball bare-handed some distance, safe in the knowledge that if he were innocent, God would protect him.

The man (who had some influence, which is why he wasn't just imprisoned to begin with) agreed -- on the condition that the bishop, clearly innocent himself, picked the ball up and handed it to him.

The trial was cancelled.

Taking our lesson from this, let these elders have the option of drawing a copper ring from a pot of boiling oil to get an automatic acquittal.

The Mechanical Eye said...

Boiling oil? That's a tad much - what's wrong with the traditional test of weighing them down and seeing if they float?

Also, I wonder how an appellate court on a trial by fire would work...

The Right Reverend Rabbi Judah said...

Must be the first time in history someone's been accused of stealing food from the school cafeteria.

Daryl Herbert said...

Their other tradition is that the punishment for food theft is to have your hand dunked in a cauldron of boiling oil.

I'd never last in a society like that. I'd show up wearing a glove and all heck would break loose.

Ron said...

'Tenure review board creates 50 new Lecturers!' The rest must publish more...

Goesh said...

-about as bad as the snake handlers here in good ol' America...I saw a clip of such a 'service' a few years back. This fellow who was missing most of his front teeth was cavorting around with a big, fat poisonous serpent in his hand. Others were waving their arms in the air, thrashing about. None of the women had large breasts, a common misconception about the snake handler sect of Christianity.

Trevor Jackson said...

Man, Survivor will do anything for ratings.

MadisonMan said...

Why do I get the feeling that the Council elders didn't have to grab the ring, and that one of them is the guilty party?

peter hoh said...

Sounds like a great way to deal with blogosphere disputes. Pay-per-view.

Dave Schuler said...

I'm now thinking of a case in Byzantine history

I thought we weren't allowed to discuss Byzantine history any more.

Joe said...

Witches burn... wood burns... wood floats... hmmm...

Simon said...

This kind of thing is why I think that people who complain about all the "native traditions" destroyed by the British Empire should be forced to undergo some of those "native traditions" before commenting. Or to defend the particular practises on the merits - what is the positive case for throwing widows onto their husband's funeral pyres? My principal criticism is that they failed to do more.

tiggeril said...

But did they weigh more or less than a duck?

Patrick Martin said...

Actually, the Code of Hammurabi provided specifically for trial by ordeal in the river:

If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.

SMGalbraith said...

The council elders then announced that the 50 who refused the order must be behind the crime."

Well, we - the more advanced civilization - just force them to appear on Larry King.

Or Sustern.

But the ones charged with really serious offense must appear with Nancy Grace.

SMG

Jim said...

That's the same way we chose the draft order in my fantasy football league.