Modicide
Posted: 03 November 2016 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3023
Joined  2007-01-30

Having reached Chapter XLIV in Gibbon, which deals with the origin and development of Roman law, I decided to check out the Twelve Tables on the net. In Law IV, Note 1, 2nd paragraph, I find the following:

As stated above, to render the modicide justifiable, the Visigoths required that the thief should be in possession of the stolen property; and the Castilian law provided that he should be armed and resist arrest while in the house of the owner.

OED comes up empty on the word modicide, which I can only assume is the killing of a thief. I’m intrigued by the root though. The nearest term to it in OED is modicity, a rare word for moderateness, from the Latin modicus, moderate. Clearly this does not fit the bill. Any suggestions?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1509
Joined  2007-02-14

I know a serious morpheme addict.  I’ll ask her.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  285
Joined  2007-02-16

A homicide by any other name doesn’t spell as sweet!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6321
Joined  2007-01-03

Lewis and Short include in the definition of modicus ”middling, ordinary, mean, bad.” So a modicide could be the killing of a low-born person or a criminal. That’s rather thin, but a possibility.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3466
Joined  2007-01-31

I’m betting it’s a old typo (for “homicide") that has been carried forward because it looks like a real but obscure word.  I tracked the editorial notes on the web page Aldi cites back to The Civil Law by S.P. Scott, orig. published in 1932* (which Googlebooks’ metadata thinks is The Philosophy of Law by Immanuel Kant [???]).

*Actually, the attribution is given on the page, but it wasn’t clear to me that they were indicating the source, rather than just other links.

[ Edited: 03 November 2016 01:12 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3466
Joined  2007-01-31

Searching through Googlebooks, I found a reference in an old Harvard catalog to the “Dean of the Faculty of Modicide”, but it turned out to be an OCR error for “… Medicine”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3023
Joined  2007-01-30

Having followed the Doctor’s footsteps through the Google results I think his conclusion is just, that a typo for homicide is the likeliest explanation. It’s deceptive because it does have the look of a genuine word and there are so many -cides it’s quite natural to believe that this is just one you haven’t come across before.

Thank you all.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3986
Joined  2007-02-26
Dr. Techie - 03 November 2016 10:53 AM

Searching through Googlebooks, I found a reference in an old Harvard catalog to the “Dean of the Faculty of Modicide”, but it turned out to be an OCR error for “… Medicine”.

perfect

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2016 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6321
Joined  2007-01-03

I wish I could find a copy (digital or material) of the 1932 edition of Scott’s book. The web page that Aldi links to appears to be drawn from a 1973 printing. The edition on Google Books (the one that has Kant in the metadata) is from 2001. If it’s a typo, it might have been introduced in a later edition. Of course, if the 1932 edition says modicide, then it still could be a typo.

(It’s times like these I wish I was still in Toronto. The Texas A&M libraries, while good, are not as good as the ones up north. It looks like Toronto has the 1932 edition online, but my login finally stopped working two weeks ago.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 November 2016 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3466
Joined  2007-01-31

The online version here purports to be based on the 1932 edition, but is text, not facsimile pages.  It has “modicide”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 November 2016 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6321
Joined  2007-01-03

I don’t see the notes (which contain modicide), only the translation of the laws themselves, which do not.

And the digital transcription doesn’t help. You can’t tell what printing it’s taken from. Yes, it says “1932,” but so do the 1973 and 2001 printings.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 November 2016 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3466
Joined  2007-01-31

This is really weird. I had found a site (and I felt certain is was the Grenoble one) that had Scott’s notes in the form of hyperlinked footnote numbers in the text, but I had to shut down my web browser between finding it and posting my last message. Apparently I’ve confused two different sites, but I sure thought it had been there. 

As you say, we can’t be sure which printing/edition was scanned for an online site, unless they show facsimile pages.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ "hangout" antedate?      BL: patient zero ››