What did Lucanus mean by "The sin of thousands always goes unpunished" in Book V of Pharsalia?

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    Presumably, that something which is done by a great many people is rarely considered a sin in society. For example, beating women is not considered a sin in some societies, not even by the law. Conversely, there are laws that people do not respect because the laws condemn behaviour everyone does and considered normal, e.g. downloading music from the Internet, or even copying a chat message (illegal under the Berne convention on copyright, I believe, unless you live in a country that has introduced exceptions).
    – Cerberus
    Nov 4, 2017 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


That the sins committed by the mass public are unpunished and ignored. Sometimes people don't even recognize the actions as crimes but as social norms (ie downloading music off the internet). Also, sometimes the crime is so unusual there is not even a law for it, so then it becomes a question of moral punishment. Basically, if enough people do it, no one gets punished because of the size of the population committing it.

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