Contemporary examples of DECIMATE used in prescriptivist sense

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jan 8 01:43:41 UTC 2008

This example would be considered, I suspect, an historical rather
than a contemporary use.


At 1/7/2008 08:15 PM, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>and this
>The Caesar episode recounts the story of the 9th Legions mutiny during the
>Great Roman Civil War. Some of the men wanted to be discharged but
>most wanted
>more pay. The episode shows a stern Caesar order the 9th to be decimated.
>Decimation was a rarely used form of punishment. Jona Lendering at
>Livius described
>this, "After a very serious offense (e.g., mutiny or having panicked), the
>commander of the commander of a legion would take the decision, and
>an officer
>would go to the subunit that was to be punished. By lot, he chose one in ten
>men for capital punishment. The surviving nine men were ordered to
>club the man
>to death. "
>The Battle for Rome episode shows the 9th being decimated while a grim faced
>Caesar looks on. The scene is very powerful as we see a man being beaten to
>death while another looks on knowing he is next. However, the story
>is not true.
>This television show is wrong.
>Caesar never ordered that the 9th be decimated. They did indeed mutiny
>demanding more pay. Caesar went to the soldiers.
>Adrian Goldsworthy in Caesar: Life of a Colossus describes what happened, "He
>(Caesar) then announced that he intended to decimate the Ninth, an ancient
>punishment that involved selecting by lot one out of every ten men
>to be beaten
>to death by his comrades. The remainder of the legion would be dishonourably
>discharged from the army. The veteran soldiers were dismayed and
>their officers
>began to beg their stern commander for mercy. Caesar knew how to work a crowd
>and gradually gave ground, finally saying that 12o ringleaders would need to
>draw lots to choose twelve men to be executed. The selection is supposed to
>have been rigged to ensure the names of the main troublemakers were
>drawn" (p.

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