By Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammiano Marcellino, vissuto in pieno IV secolo, è il più importante storico romano di età tardo-imperiale. l. a. sua opera storiografica, intitolata Rerum gestarum libri XXXI, o semplicemente Res gestae, e riguardante gli anni 353 – 378, costituisce los angeles più affidabile fonte del periodo. L'opera, scritta interamente in latino nonostante le origini siriane dell'autore, si pone come una continuazione di Cornelio Tacito, e ha uno straordinario valore storico e documentario, according to l. a. competenza e l. a. perizia dell'autore, e los angeles potenza della sua retorica. Oggi le Res Gestae sono pubblicate da Utet in un'edizione critica digitale, comprensiva del testo originale fruibile in modalità ipertestuale.
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Over his usual clothes was a white cotton garment, which covered his whole body, arms and legs. " However, his "step was remarkably firm"—this despite six weeks of confinement with a chain around his ankle. 9 The distance from the prison to theplace of execution was approximately a mile and ahalf, and, despite "occasional obstructions" from thecrowd, Gross walked it inunder three-quarters ofan hour. A sheriffs "officer with awand," the high constables, the city constables, and "the Captains and Lieutenants of the Watch" headed the procession onhorseback.
Yet the confession of the condemned was central to the event. The speeches of the criminals markedtheir only moment of freedom. Criminals could, and indeed somedid, denytheir guilt orchallenge the judgment of their sentence. It was this realm of freedom—to speak or not to speak, to question or not to question—that made the confession such a crucial moment in the ritual. When the confession occurred, the criminals acknowledged that the law was justandthat they in fact deserved the punishment imposed.
But his execution itselfalso stood perchedbetween two different penal worlds. On the one hand, he was executed only a few months before Roberts Vaux spoke to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone of the Eastern StatePenitentiary and only a few miles from the site ofthat ceremony. On the other, Gross's execution harked back to a long practice of public penalties. William Gross was thelast person the state of Pennsylvania publicly executed in Philadelphia. He followed—both literally and figuratively—in the footsteps of numerous predecessors.