Texas Law Review, Vol. 73, No. 3 (February 1995), pp. 571-595. Copyright Texas Law Review Association (English version only).


In particular, this Essay brings Dante, C.S. Lewis, and Euripides to bear on a discrete problem examined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Maynard v. Cartwright. Reading Dante's Inferno, Lewis's Perelandra, and Euripides's Medea provides guidance in responding to the Court's mandate that the state channel discretion in capital sentencing. Specifically, these works imply an ethical framework for determining what constitutes an "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" murder. Other literary texts are certainly relevant to Maynard. This Essay, however, is not an attempt to survey comprehensively and distill the insights provided by all relevant material, but rather an attempt to demonstrate and defend a method of applying literary texts to concrete legal problems. Even if my specific conclusions about Maynard do not ultimately prove to be convincing, especially to those who categorically oppose capital punishment, I hope my methodology is independently defensible.