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Parricide (Latin: parricida, killer of parents or another close relative) is defined as:

  • the act of murdering one's father (patricide), mother (matricide) or other close relative, but usually not children (infanticide).
  • 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 for the term parricide, with the biggest discrepancy being whether or not the killing has to be defined as a murder (usually killing with malice aforethought) to qualify as a parricide.

Parricide is most often committed by a son against his father, and is associated with delusional thinking.[1]

A review of parricide cases that include factors other than delusional thinking such as a history of sexual abuse or fraud committed by the son against the family has been published in the forensic literature.[2] The Perri, Lichtenwald and MacKenzie article provides suggestions for parents, social workers; counselors and psychologists who are attempting to mediate in a family whose dynamics are similar to murder cases in which fraud against the family predated the parricide.

In pre-revolutionary France, cases of unintentional killings were still treated as parricides,Template:Clarifyme with the accidental offenders facing the same harsh penalties intended for deliberate perpetrators of the crime.

Ancient Rome had a unique punishment for parricide. 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. Tacitus called it the "parricide's doom".[3] 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.

Historical cases

  • Lucius Hostius reportedly was the first parricide in Rome, sometime after the Second Punic War.
  • In Japan, parricide once brought heavy punishment under the Criminal Code of Japan. Because of the Tochigi incest case, however, the law was abolished.
  • Mary Blandy (1720-1752) poisoned her father, Francis Blandy, with arsenic in England in 1751.
  • Sarah Marie Johnson was convicted of killing her parents in Idaho in 2003. This represents an extremely rare case of parricide committed by a daughter. As such, Johnson's arrest gained much attention. Parricide is typically committed by males. One recent study indicates that only four girls in the United States have been convicted of parricide in the last 24 years.[4]

In literature

  • Le Père Goriot by Balzac: " much for providing black veils for parricides, so much for sawdust, so much for pulleys and cord for the knife."
  • "A Parricide": a short story by Guy de Maupassant
  • 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 Niccolò 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 than 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."
  • Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamné by Victor Hugo: "Jean Martin was the one who shot his father with a pistol as the old man was opening a seemed to me as though the dungeon was full of men, strange men who carried their heads in their left hands, and held them by the mouth, because there was no hair upon them. Each raised his fist at me, the parricide excepted."
  • Star Trek: Insurrection written by Rick Berman and Michael Piller: "You've brought the Federation into the middle of a blood feud, Admiral. The children have returned to expel their elders, just as they were once expelled. Except Ru'afo's need for revenge has now escalated to parricide."
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare: "We hear our bloody cousins are bestow'd / in England and in Ireland, not confessing/ Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers/ With strange invention."
  • The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian: "Mr. Consul Eliot and I arranged the neatest little parricide you can imagine, and I think I may promise a new and better disposed Dey at present."
  • The Immaculate Conception by Gaetan Soucy: "Among them were parricides, the mentally retarded, vagrants, and abandoned children. It was a charitable institution, and democratic besides, in that all the residents were treated equally, the same punishments applied to all, from the murderer to the orphan."
  • In the The 39 Clues series, Amy and Dan's relatives frequently try to kill other relatives just so they can get their hands on the 39 Clues.
  • "On Hospitality" by Jacques Derrida.
  • "The Martyr" by Herman Melville, verse 3, line 8: " . . . And the parricides remand; . . ."

In media


  1. Bourget, Dominique, Gagné, Pierre, and Labelle , Mary-Eve (2007). "Parricide: A Comparative Study of Matricide Versus Patricide," The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 35:3:306-312.
  2. Perri ,Frank S., Lichtenwald, Terrance G., and MacKenzie, Paula M. (2008). "The Lull Before the Storm: Adult Children Who Kill Their Parents," Forensic Examiner, 17:3 NCJ # 226976.
  3. Tacitus; Hadas, Moses (2003). The Annals & The Histories. New York: Modern Library Classics. pp. 137, 590.
  4. Primetime Crime: Teen Charged With Parents' Gruesome Murder, ABC News

External links

es:Parricidio fr:Parricide it:parricidio ja:尊属殺 zh:杀害尊亲属罪

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