From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- the act of murdering one's father, mother, or other close relative
- the act of murdering a person (such as the ruler of one's country) who stands in a relationship resembling that of a father
- a person who commits such an act
Various definitions exist of the term parricide. The biggest discrepancy is whether or not the killing has to be defined as a murder (usually killing with malice aforethought) to qualify as a parricide.
In pre-revolutionary France, cases of notoriously accidental killings were still treated as parricides, with the offenders facing the extra harsh penalties destined for authors of such heinous crimes.
Ancient Rome had a unique punishment for parricide, which is described in gruesome detail in Steven Saylor's novel Roman Blood, based on one of Cicero's actual murder trials. The felon was severely scourged then sewn into a stout leather bag with a dog, a snake, a rooster, and a monkey, and the bag was thrown into the river Tiber. Plutarch records that the old laws of Romulus had no penalty for parricide because it was considered a crime too evil ever to be committed. Lucius Hostius reportedly was the first parricide in Rome, sometime after the Second Punic War.
In Japan, the penalty of parricide was originally heavy. Because of the Chiyo Aizawa case however the law was abolished.
Parricide in literature
- Pere Goriot by Balzac: "...so much for providing black veils for parricides, so much for sawdust, so much for pulleys and cord for the knife."
- The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky: "But it's not an ordinary case of murder, it's a case of parricide. That impresses men's minds, and to such a degree that the very triviality and incompleteness of the evidence becomes less trivial and less incomplete even to an unprejudiced mind."
- The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli: "[Oliverotto] was captured there, a year after his parricide, and together with his former mentor in prowess and villainy, strangled."
- The Stranger by Albert Camus: "He went so far as to hope that human justice would mete out punishment unflinchingly. But he wasn't afraid to say it: my callousness inspired in him a horror nearly greater then which he felt at the crime of parricide."
- Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: "He moves north through small settlements and farms, working for day wages and found. He sees a parricide hanged in a crossroads hamlet and the man's friends run forward and pull his legs and he hangs dead from his rope while urine darkens his trousers."