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A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 4
written by "Morley, John, 1838-1923"
...cording to the narrative of Zosimus, was unable to procure the pardon of his crimes: he was polluted with the blood of his wife, his son, and all his relations. It was necessary, for the protection of the human race, that crimes so flagitious should be deemed incapable of expiation, that the prospect of absolution might not invite to their committal, and that hideous atrocity might be checked by universal horror. The Roman Catholics have expiations which they call penances. We have seen, under the article on "Austerities," how grossly so salutary an institution has been abused. According to the laws of the barbarians who subverted the Roman Empire, crimes were expiated by money. This was called compounding: "Let the offender compound by paying ten, twenty, thirty shillings." Two hundred sous constituted the composition price for killing a priest, and four hundred for killing a bishop; so that a bishop was worth exactly two priests. After having thus compounded with men, God Himself was compounded with, when the practice of confession became generally established. At length Pope John XXII. established a tariff of sins. The absolution of incest, committed by a layman, cost four livres tournois: "Ab incestu pro laico in foro conscienticæ turonenses quatuor." For a man and woman who have committed incest, eighteen livres tournois, four ducats, and nine carlines. This is certainly unjust; if one person pays only four livres tournois, two persons ought not to pay more than eight. Even crimes against nature have actually their affixed rates, amounting to ninety livres tournois, twelve ducats, and six carlines: "Cum inhibitione turonenses 90, ducatos 12, carlinos 90," etc. It is scarcely credible that Leo X. should have been so imprudent as to print this book of rates or indulgences in 1514, which, however, we are assured he did; at the same time it must be considered that no spark had then appeared of that conflagration, kindled ...

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