This book explores the formation of clemency as a human and social value in the Roman Empire. The first thorough study of the origins of clemency, this book examines ancient art, literature, historical documents and archaeological artifacts in order to explain how, why, and when the idea of mercy was accepted into Western society. When the Roman democratic republic fell and the monarchical Empire rose, a new vocabulary of power was needed to help balance the awesome abilities of the state to inflict harm and the need for individual protection. Hence, the ideology of clemency and new philosophies of mercy and cruelty were fashioned. Dowling's vivid look at the emergence of mercy and forgiveness in Western society is of particular interest to Classicists, historians, students of ethics, law, and Christianity. All will find fascinating the study of mechanisms by which people are transformed in response to significant changes in the structure of power.