"lex talionis" (Latin)

What does the Latin term lex talionis mean?

"Lex talionis" is a Latin term that translates to "law of retaliation" or "law of retribution." It refers to the principle of punishment or justice where the severity of the punishment is directly proportional to the harm or offense committed. This concept is often expressed as "an eye for an eye" or "like for like." In its literal interpretation, "lex talionis" suggests that the punishment should mirror the offense, aiming to ensure fairness and proportionality. However, in modern legal systems, this principle is generally not applied literally and has been replaced by more nuanced approaches to punishment and justice.

Examples in Sentences

Here are three example sentences demonstrating the usage of "lex talionis":
  • The ancient legal code of Hammurabi's Babylonian Empire included elements of lex talionis, prescribing specific punishments for different crimes.
  • In some historical contexts, the principle of lex talionis was seen as a way to deter potential wrongdoers by imposing punishments that matched the harm caused.
  • Modern legal systems generally prioritize rehabilitation and consider factors such as intent and societal interests, moving away from strict lex talionis principles in favor of more equitable and proportionate forms of justice.
lex talionis (meaning)

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.