“reasonable chastisement”

For anyone working on the lex Aquilia, the following text will be well familiar:

D. 9, 2, 5, 3 Ulp. 18 ad ed.
Si magister in disciplina vulneraverit servum vel occiderit, an Aquilia teneatur, quasi damnum iniuria dederit? et Iulianus scribit Aquilia teneri eum, qui eluscaverat discipulum in disciplina: multo magis igitur in occiso idem erit dicendum. proponitur autem apud eum species talis: sutor, inquit, puero discenti ingenuo filio familias, parum bene facienti quod demonstraverit, forma calcei cervicem percussit, ut oculus puero perfunderetur. dicit igitur Iulianus iniuriarum quidem actionem non competere, quia non faciendae iniuriae causa percusserit, sed monendi et docendi causa: an ex locato, dubitat, quia levis dumtaxat castigatio concessa est docenti: sed lege Aquilia posse agi non dubito:

It recounts the grisly tale of a teacher knocking out the eye of a lazy pupil and the jurist, Julian, discussing the matter whether this counts as wrongful damage to property (the text contains two scenarios, a slave pupil and a freeborn one).
For all the theoretical complexity of this text, it should of course not be forgotten that the example was rooted in the Roman experience where teachers did strike students “monendi et docendi causa”.
A good example of this can be seen from the following grave marker for a teacher (below) located in the archaeological museum in Milan. The grave is notable for two reasons, first, the teacher was a freedwoman and secondly, at the bottom, there is clearly a depiction of a teacher striking an idle pupil with a strap of some sort. While this blogger of course does not condone this type of activity, it does show that the examples from the Digest should be read in context. They are, after all, Roman examples.

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