I am advised to re-submit this as a separate question (had thought, initially, it was just an aside, barely worthy of mention); anyway, North & Hillard Ex. 195: "All order thus being lost, Nicias surrendered at discretion. He and Demosthenes, being condemned to death, died by poison;"

N&H give (Ans. Book): itaque confusis signis et ordinibus Nicias nullis conditionibus factis(footnote latis) se dedidit: qui cum Demosthene capitis damnatus veneno necatus est;"

Minor Q: any (significant) difference between using "factis"/ "latis"?

Main Q: deployment of "capitis": (N&H's English version takes no account of it) first thought it was "captis" so rushed into--they-having-been-captured; but, no: second instinct--of-the-head?! No! To Pock. Ox. Lat. Dict. displaying nineteen definitions of "captus", capitis". The only one that could be made to fit was--"of-the-capital-city" in the ancient and Medieval tradition of calling important people eg Fred-of-Freetown, wasn't entirely convinced so mentioned it, en passant, to Joonas. No!

Any thoughts?


1 Answer 1


The most likely solution seems to be that capitis poena means capital/death penalty, according to L&S, and caput in this context means life [and death], and even death [penalty] by itself when accompanied by specific nouns:

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If you see the third-to-last line, it even goes to quote an occurrence of capitis damnare meaning to condemn to death:

postquam autem se capitis damnatum bonis publicatis audivit... (Nep. Alc. 4.5)
But when he heard that he was condemned to death... (Watson, 1886)

  • 1
    thanks: so "capitis" means "of-the-capital (kind)" as in (punishment) of the capital kind--death! And "of-the-capital-city" was nearly getting there--in roundabout ways.
    – tony
    Feb 26, 2019 at 10:38

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