from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The law of retaliation, according to which the punishment inflicted corresponds in kind and degree to the injury, as an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth. This mode of punishment was established by the Mosaic law (Lev. xxiv. 20).
  • n. Revenge; retaliation.
  • n. A slip of a tree.


  • Although they at first refused to come when summoned, in one fashion or another they did appear to plead their case, and they paid the due penalty for such temerity, so that some, by the law of talion, were consigned to the flames.

    De Re Militari: The Society for Medieval Military History » Medieval Warfare in the reign of Charlemagne

  • Then the chiefs of the Companions urged the plaintiffs to accept the blood-wit and deserve the thanks of the folk; but they both refused and would accept nothing save the talion.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Simple talion may be fine for wartime, but politics between wars demands symmetry and a more elegant idea of justice, even to the point of masquerading, a bit decadently, as mercy.

    Gravity's Rainbow

  • His hostess saw these movements with satisfaction: he had appeased her personal indignation, but her soul was not hospitable towards him, and the devil in her was gratified with the sight of his discomposure: she hankered after talion, not waited on penitence.

    Warlock o' Glenwarlock


The word 'talion' comes from Middle French 'talion', from Latin 'talis', meaning 'such'.