Penalties in Lycian Epitaphs of Hellenistic and Roman Times
Journal of Hellenic Studies
It is well known that a large proportion of the Greek epitaphs of Lycia contain a clause by which any person making any burial unauthorised by the founder of the tomb becomes liable to pay a named sum to some corporation, whether public (as the δῆμος, the πόλις, or the imperial treasury) or religious (as the temple of some god), or a powerful association (as the γερουσία).This liability was not (as might be supposed) a fine imposed by the state in punishment of a criminal offence. Illegal
... ence. Illegal burial was indeed (at least under the Roman government) a crime at law, and was punishable by a fine; but this fine is expressly distinguished from the sum due to the πόλις and the δῆμος. The penalty in question does not, in fact, represent a fine at all, but damages to be recovered by a civil action. This explains the wide variation in the sums specified, and the otherwise unaccountable fact that the amount is fixed by the builder of the tomb. It stands for the value which he placed on the possession of the tomb, modified, probably, by his estimate of the damages which the court was likely to grant.