The origins of tattooing are very ancient, and the modern fascination with the practice serves to remind us that it has been an enduring fixture in human history. Its functions are many and often overlap, but the particular focus here is on the tattoo as an aspect of punishment. Comparative evidence, however, is welcomed whenever it proves useful. This article first marshals and examines the late antique literary evidence (which is predominantly Christian) extending from North Africa in the third century to Constantinople in the ninth. Then that evidence is put in its legal context. From at least the time of Augustus, the penal tattoo, which was generally placed on the face or forehead, had been associated with degradation. Such remained the case in late antiquity, and it also becomes clear that the tattoo accompanied a sentence of exile and hard labor, usually in mines or quarries. The deeper meaning of the tattoo and its placement on the forehead is considered in the light of modern understandings. There follows a discussion of the actual form taken by the tattoo, which normally displayed the name of the crime, the name of the emperor, or the name of the punishment. Based on the available data, the last option appears to have been the most common penal tattoo in this period. Finally, the article hypothesizes that the Christians effected a transformation of the tattoo and subverted its original intent, so that, rather than being a sign of punishment, it became a sign of glory in which one could take pride. Thus the penal function, in some settings at least, was overtaken by a primarily religious one.

[Footnotes]

[Footnotes]
1
Krakow 1994 (who also discusses such magazines as Body Play, International Tattoo Art, Skin and Ink, Skin Art, Tattoo Historian, Tattoo Revue, Tattoo Savage, Tattoo World Quarterly, and Tattootime [147-51])
Lautman 1994
Vale and Juno 1989
Wojcik 1995.
Sanders 1989
Rubin 1988b:233- 62
Mascia-Lees and Sharpe 1992.
Gell 1993:1-39
2
Rubin 1988a:16.
3
Spindler 1994, esp. 167-73.
Bianchi 1988:21-22.
4
Scutt and Gotch 1974:21-25.
5
Scutt and Gotch 1974:13
Gell 1993:8-11.
6
Jones 1987:141
Mylroie 1994
infra, ns. 90, 91.
7
Hambly 1974:24.
8
Jones 1987
infra, ns. 86-89.
9
Jones 1987:150-51
infra, n. 13
10
Mommsen 1899:949-51
Brasiello 1937:360-86
Garnsey 1970:132-36
Millar 1984:137- 43.
Gustafson 1994b:421-33.
11
Pontius Vit. Cypr. 7.1488.
12
Petron. Sat. 103.1-5, 105.11-106.1
Sen. Dial. 5.36
Mart. 8.95.9
Juv. 14.24
Apul. Met. 9.12.4
Jones 1987:143 n. 16.
13
Betz 1971:664.
Dolger 1911:70-193
Lampe 1951:1-18, 274-80.
14
Hilary In Const. 11.4-7.
15
Rocher 1987:237-38.
Migne, PL 10.588d
Cod. Theod. 9.40.2 (315/316)
ns. 34-37 infra.
16
Barnes 1993:169
17
Petron. Sat. 103.1-5, 105.11-106.1
Herod. 5.65-67, 77-79
Cic. Cat. 1.32.
supra, n. 12.
18
Blaise and Chirat 1967
Suet. Dom. 10.1
infra, ns. 88, 89, 110
19
Claud. In Eutrop. 2.342-45
Cod. Theod. 9.40.17 (399)
20
Blaise and Chirat 1967 s.v. ecclesiasticus.
Bingham [1708] 1940:10-11
Valesius, at 11 n. p.
21
Ath. Hist. Ar
Barnes 1993, esp. 109-82
Gustafson 1994a: 109-229.
22
Barnes 1993:144-48
idem 1992:129-40
Williams 1991:202-17.
23
Ath. Hist. Ar 60
Eus. Mart. Pal. 7.1-2, 8.1, 13.1, 4-10
Epiph. Pan. 68.3.6
Coll. 15.3.7.
Kind 1965:57-64.
24
Theod. Hist. Eccl. 4.22.
25
Jones 1987:154
Lampe 1951:7
Tert. De corona 3
Jer. Comm. in Ezech. 9.4
Migne, PL 25.88b
Ath. Vit. Ant. 13, 35, 53, 78.
Dölger 1911:171-79
Lampe 1951:261-83
Daniélou 1961:143-52
Sulzberger 1925:356- 83
Rondet 1954:388-94
Dinkler 1957:110-29
Leclercq 1914b:3139-44.
Hjort 1992:99-112.
Migne, PG 87.2.2401
Hist. 5.10.13-15
M. and M. Whitby 1986:145 n. 51
ns. 115, 116 infra.
26
Boethius, Cons. phil. 1.4.18.
27
Theophanes, Chronographia a.m. 6285.
McCormick 1986:142.
Jones 1987:154-55
28
Cunningham 1991:84-97 (sections 19-24).
Ibid. 157 n. 145
15 n. 51
160 n. 162.
29
Ibid. 23 (p. 94).
supra, n. 27
30
Perdrizet 1911:80
n. 52 infra
31
Vit. Mich. Sync. 20.6-17
Cunningham 1991:86
32
Migne, PG 116.680
Cunningham 1991:16-18
33
Perdrizet 1911:83 n. 1.
34
Cod. Theod. 9.40.2
Seeck 1919:164
Barnes 1982:73
Cod. lust. 9.47.17.
PLRE 1:294.
35
Rocher 1987:237
Vogt 1945:118-48, esp. 143-44.
Gaudemet 1947:25-61
Hunt 1993:143-58
Corcoran 1993:97-119
Evans Grubbs 1993:120-42.
Aur. Vict. Caes. 41.4
Sozom. Hist. Eccl. 1.8.13
Garnsey 1970:128.
36
Eus. Hist. Eccl. 9.1.7
Barnes 1981:159.
Cod. Theod. 9.40.8 (365)
37
Cod. Theod. 9.24.1.1 [320/326]
MacMullen 1990:204-17, esp. 211.
38
Jones 1987:147-50.
39
Gai. Inst. 1.13
Krueger and Studemund 1912: 5
Tit. Ulp. 1.11
Krueger 1878:6
40
Watson 1987:118
Sherwin-White 1973:283-87, 380-94
Jones 1960:129-40.
41
Millar 1984
42
Ibid. 127.
43
Rilinger 1988
Garsey 1970:221-33
44
Cod. Iust. 9.47.11.
45
Millar 1984:138.
Garsey 1970:245-51
46
Garsey 1970:132
Millar 1984:138-39.
Brasiello 1937:416-46.
Cod. Theod. 9.40.2 (315/316)
Cod. Iust. 9.47.17
Gai. Inst. 1.13/Tit. Ulp. 1.11
47
Millar 1984:139
48
Tac. Ann. 15.44.
49
Suet. Calig. 27.3
n. 95 infra.
50
Santalucia 1982:737-39
idem, Diritto e processo penale nell'antica Roma [Milan, 1989] 110-24).
51
H. Musurillo, ed. and tr., The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford, 1972).
Pliny Ep. 10.96
52
Cypr. Ep. 76.
Clarke 1989:283 n. 10.
Pontius Vit. Cypr. 7.1488
ns. 11-13 supra
53
Sherwin-White 1952:199-213
de Ste. Croix 1963:6-38
Barnes 1968:32-50
1971:143-63.
Clarke 1984:21-39
1989:8-14.
Barnes 1981:148-63.
54
Coll. 15.3.7.
55
Van Gulik 1982:16
infra, n. 60
56
Foucault 1979:25.
Millar 1984:145
57
Jones 1987:143.
Lautman 1994:117
58
Van Gulik 1982:7
59
Harding and Ireland 1989:193.
infra, n. 61.
60
Dig. 48.23
Dig. 48.19.4 and 8
Eus. Mart. Pal. 13.1-4
Cod. lust. 9.49.4, 51.2, 4
Pauli Sent. 4.8.22 (24)
Millar 1984:138
Tac. Hist. 2.92, 4.6, 44
Dio 68.1-2
Jerome Chron. 275
Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.20.8
H.A. Carac. 3.1
Julian Ep. 46
Historia acephala 3.3
Cod.Theod. 9.38.10
61
Aet. 8.12.
Jones 142-43.
Van Gulik 1982:13
Marin et al. 1995
62
Lévi-Strauss 1963:257.
63
Bordo 1993, esp. 16-18.
Douglas [1970] 1980:195
64
Foucault 1979:26.
65
duBois 1991:73
idem 1988:130-66
66
Gell 1993:8.
67
Harding and Ireland 1989:104, 198-200
68
Foucault 1979:29-30.
69
Anzieu 1989:105.
70
Gell 1993:30.
Favazza 1996:148-49.
71
Ross 1995:325-55.
72
Cod. Theod. 9.40.2 (315/316)
ns. 34-37 supra.
73
Gal. De placitis Hippocratis et Platonis 6.8.82
Van Gulik 1982:6-16 and pl. 2
74
Jones 1987:144
Earle [1896] 1968:148-49
Parry 1933:129
75
Favazza 1996:85.
Grealy 1994
infra, n. 126.
76
Gleason 1995:55
Barton 1994:95
McCormick 1986:142
Van Gulik 1982:12-13
77
Kafka 1948:197.
78
Kingston 1976:34-35.
79
Plato Leges 9.854d.
80
Plaut. Aul. 325-26.
Jones 1987:153
81
Cic. Rosc. Am. 57.
Jones 1987:153
Mommsen 1899:495
Strachan-Davidson 1912:140-41
Levy 1963:381
82
Petron. Sat. 103.2, 105.11.
83
Jones 1987:148
84
Perdrizet 1911:81
85
Cod. Theod. 9.40.2 (315/316)
86
Perdrizet 1911:80 n. 4
Barnes 1972:61
87
Andrews 1899:138-42
Scutt and Gotch 1974:162.
Jones 1987:153
88
Earle 1896:138-49
Powers 1966:198-201
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
infra, n. 112.
89
Kogon [1950] 1979:44-45
90
"Branded women" 1994.
91
Sanders 1989:183 n. 10.
Kahan 1996 (esp. 630-53)
92
Hdt. 7.233.2.
93
Jones 1987:146-47.
Barnes 1972:62
94
Jones 1987:149-50.
95
Suet. Calig. 27.3.
96
Ambr. De obitu Val. 58.5-7
97
Perdrizet 1911:124-45.
Cod. Theod. 10.22.4 (398)
Cod. Iust. 11.10.3
Veg. 1.8, 2.5
Jones 1987:149
98
Jones [1964] 1986:837-39
Fant 1988:152
Millar 1984:142
99
Foucault 1979:43.
100
Ibid. 47.
101
Ibid.
102
Ibid. 49.
103
Ibid. 47.
104
Perdrizet 1911:80 n. 4
Joest 1887:106
105
Sellin 1976:121.
106
Sanders 1989:183 n. 10.
107
Dig. 48.19.10.1.
108
Jones 1987:141, 149.
109
Migne, PL 115.1012
110
Chadwick 1980:175-79.
Watson 1952:56-62
Brown 1992:180-211, esp. 204-205 and fig. 9.10.
111
supra, ns. 86-89
infra, n. 112.
112
Hawthorne [1850] 1990:230.
Defoe [1722] 1903:113-15
113
Rev. 19.11-16
114
Victor Vit. 2.2
Migne, PL 58.201
Brown 1988:197-200
115
Procop. Gaza Comm. in Isaiam 44.5
Migne, PG 87.2.2401-2402
116
Th. Sim. Hist. 5.10.13-15.
117
Reidel 1900:245.
118
Hadden and Stubbs 1871:458).
Lev. 19.28.
Makkot 3.6
Encyclopaedia Judaica, s.v. "tattoo."
The Koran (55.5.118)
Hadith 7.827-32
Khan 1976:538-39
Maertens 1978:73-74.
119
Dölger 1929:202-11
1911:39-69
Meinardus 1958:3-6
Tanoni 1977:105-19
Carabelli 1996:29-30
Scutt and Gotch 1974:27, 65-66, 165
Perdrizet 1911:112-17
Parry 1933:122-33
Govenar 1983:5-11
1988:209-17
Hardy 1992.
120
Mellinkoff 1981
121
Perkins 1995.
Ross 1995:325-55
122
Michael the Synkellos 20.243-44 (Cunningham, ed., 89).
123
Ibid. 24.247 (97).
124
Van Gulik 1982:13, 15 (table), 17.
Jones 1987:145
125
Thévoz 1984:80.
126
Grealy 1994
127
supra, n. 25.
Leclercq 1914a:3045-3139.
128
supra, n. 91

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