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the principle of retributive punishment (“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”) that emerged as a rule of law in tribal societies and was invoked by slaveholders in ancient times. According to talion, the injury inflicted on a guilty person should equal the injury that such person committed. This notion was most vividly expressed in Hammurabi’s code, in Babylonia. It also found expression in ancient European law; some elements of talion, for example, were included in the Twelve Tables of Rome.
Talion, therefore, stemmed from a desire to limit blood feuds by allowing for the exaction of retribution equivalent to an injury done. In modern times talionic ideas have appeared in the writings of a number of philosophers, among them I. Kant and G. Hegel; in the bourgeois science of criminal law; and, preeminently, in the works of the representatives of the classical school of criminal law.