Crucification question

I am rereading the Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough, and I’m a little confused about something.

The accepted punishment for slaves, pirates, etc, was crucification. However, they mentioned that not breaking the legs made the person live longer, hence a more cruel death.

What I can’t figure out is why breaking legs would hasten a crucification death. Is it just the added pain of broken limbs, or is there less support for the body on the cross and that makes one die faster? And how would that make one die faster?

This is somewhat of a gruesome question, I admit, but I’ve read this series several times and I cannot figure this one out.

I’ve heard before that the cause of death during a crucifixion is suffocation. One theory (that I saw on either Discovery or History channel) is that the victim would use his legs to hoist himself up a little to take a breath. If you break the legs, they can no longer do this.

If anyone knows a cite for this, I’d appreciate it!

From what I can remember, crucifixtion kills through suffocation. Your body weight, as it hangs by the arms and shoulders, makes if more difficult for your diaphragm to fill your lungs with air and you suffocate. The legs were broken so that the prisoner couldn’t bear any of the weight on his legs.

Yes, based on everything I’ve read it is because of lack of support. No cites, but I’ve read that with the feet nailed to a block, they support most of the body weight, not the hands (and therefore the nails actually can be through the palms without tearing out). The victim can use his legs to lift his body slightly to enable breathing. When the victim can no longer push with the legs, breathing gets more and more difficult, and death comes faster.

It’s really a gruesome way to die. Those Romans and Persians really knew their torture.

Crucifixion works because you can’t breathe efficiently enough if the weight of your body is hanging from your arms.

If your legs are working, you can push back with your feet, taking enough of the load off your arms that you can breathe normally.

Eventually, your legs will give in to fatigue and you’ll expire. In the meantime, you’ve prolonged your agony.

The whole leg-wrestling with gravity process - which as I understand it can last for days - is short-circuited when the legs are broken. I’m sure that some people did go into shock, as well, which would also have hastened death.

Just have to say, that was a truly impressive quadrapost.

If understanding crucifixion is your thing, you might find this recent thread called “Why did they nail Jesus when most guys got rope?” interesting.

It pretty much answers your question and more.

Sparc

So then, if your legs aren’t broken, you die of fatique? thirst? hunger? exposure? boredom?

Any of them would be a possibility, but it’s rather more probable that before any of that happens you would tire of holding yourself up and then die from asphyxia as your chest muscles are pulled taught as your body falls forward and down while your arms remain attached to the crossbeam.

All those questions are answered in pretty much detail in the link I posted in my previous post.

Sparc

Any of them would be a possibility, but it’s rather more probable that before any of that happens you would tire of holding yourself up and then die from asphyxia as your chest muscles are pulled taught as your body falls forward and down while your arms remain attached to the crossbeam.

All those questions are answered in pretty much detail in the link I posted in my previous post.

Sparc