Welcome back to our macabre series of shows
featuring some of the worst things
people have done to each other in the name of punishment.
While in other shows we have talked about instruments of torture
and killing that could be said to be basic—
claws that rip flesh, cudgels that smash bones—
this particular instrument of horrifyingly inhumane torture
could be said to have been cooked up by creative folks.
As with just about anything we have talked about in this series
it would be unimaginable to suffer this treatment,
but hey, we aren’t going to say
it’s any worse than having your intestines chewed on by starving rats.
Like that punishment, though, this one was slow
making hanging or head chopping seem very merciful in comparison.
This form of execution was created by the ancient Greeks.
It had a few names, and it might also be called
the bronze bull, or the Sicilian bull.
But how do we know anything about it at all?
One of the answers is because it was written about in something called
the “Bibliotheca Historica”, which translates as “Historical Library”.
这本书叫Bibliotheca Historica 译作《历史丛书》
It consists of many books
written by an ancient Greek historian named Diodorus Siculus.
In these books you’ll find his version of the history of the world,
from what went down in ancient Egypt to the leader Alexander the Great.
Quite a lot of it is still intact,
but some parts from the series are missing or in fragments.
In one of those books Mr. Siculus wrote about the brazen bull
and this is what he said.
The guy who invented it was an inventor by trade
and he was named Perilaus of Athens.
It’s said before he built this thing,
somewhere between 570 and 554 BC,
he actually pitched the idea.
He was what you might call a creative technologist of the past looking for some funding.
He got that funding from a man named Phalaris, the tyrant of Acragas.
Given his frightening title you won’t be surprised to hear
that this man was said to be very cruel.
In some accounts of his life it’s written that he enjoyed torture
and even went so low as to eat children.
We should say that the Encyclopedia Britannica cites research that says
he wasn’t as cruel as some people have written.
Whatever the case, it seems he commissioned the building of the brazen bull.
So, how did one perish in the brazen bull?
Well, it was certainly a thing conjured up by a creative yet sadistic imagination.
It was said to be the same size of a bull, but shaped from bronze,
with an opening where a man could enter the thing.
A fire was then lit under the bull and the man would slowly roast to death.
But get this, it was made so that when the man was howling in agony
his shrieks would emanate through specially distorted pipes built into the bull
so the impression an onlooker would get was an animal bellowing in pain.
This might have been the fun part for someone like the tyrant of Acragas.
The smoke would come out through holes in the bull’s nose,
and that nose was filled with incense since burning bodies don’t smell so good.
The bones that were left would then be turned into bracelets.
So the story goes. When the idea was pitched by Perilaus
it’s said he said this to the tyrant Phalaris,
“The occupant will shriek and roar in unremitting agony;
and his cries will come to you through the pipes
as the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings.
这会是最痛苦 最可怜 最悦耳的叫声
Your victim will be punished, and you will enjoy the music.”
When the bull was finished, Phalaris told the inventor
to get inside the thing to test out the sound,
but some sources say he lit the fire and the inventor died there.
Others say he pulled him out but then killed him by pushing him over a cliff.
It seems for all his hard work Perilaus was killed,
but perhaps not because Phalaris didn’t want to pay.
Even though Phalaris is said to have been keen on cruelty,
it’s written that he said this to Perilaus
after hearing about the execution method.
His words revolted me. I loathed the thought of such ingenious cruelty,
and resolved to punish the artificer in kind.
I said to him, “If your art can really produce this effect,
get inside yourself, and pretend to roar;
and we will see whether the pipes will make such music as you describe.”
By the way, it’s written that uopn his downfall
Phalaris was also killed inside the bull.
So that’s inventor and commissioner both killed at their own hands in a way.
Word of the brazen bull was passed down and histories were written
and they link the device with these two men,
the inventor and the tyrant.
But the history of the bull doesn’t stop there.
The Romans it’s said had a taste for the brazen bull,
and if you’ve watched our other shows on Roman torture,
you won’t be surprised to hear some people wouldn’t have had many scruples
about roasting a man to death and enjoying his screams.
We might look at the story of a man named Saint Eustace.
It’s said he became a martyr after being killed in the second century.
The Romans were punishing many Christians
before they themselves converted to Christianity
under the emperor Constantine, but that was in the fourth century AD.
Before that a lot of Christian blood was spilled,
and it seems a few Christians also got cooked to death inside a bronze animal.
Saint Eustace was said to have been one of them.
Before he converted to Christianity he had served under a Roman emperor,
but he saw the light so to speak when he had a vision one day
which involved a stag and a crucifix.
Christians might tell you that this man then lost everything,
which was one of those tests of God.
He lost his cash, his servants,
and his wife and kids were taken away from him by of all things a lion and a wolf.
Yet his faith remained strong throughout.
There are a few different stories as to what happened to this man,
but some people will tell you he got his wealth back as well as his family,
but in the end he, his wife and children were all roasted to death
in the brazen bull on the orders of emperor Hadrian.
We looked at some Christian sources and they seem to back that up,
although they don’t say his family got the treatment, too.
We also found this piece of Christian history, written in the 1800s.
It seems to suggest that when Eustace and his family got roasted they died,
but some miracles did happen.
This is from that text: “The holy martyrs,
by Divine power, remained alive for three days,
praising and blessing the great Giver of life and death.
At last, when their voices ceased,
the bull was opened, and all four were found without life,
but also without any injury to their bodies or garments.”
It’s written that other Christians close to him at this time went the same way,
for instance a man known as St. Attipas.
This is written about him: “They became enraged
and dragged him to the temple of Artemis,
and there they threw him into a glowing, red-hot copper or brazen metal bull
where they normally put their sacrifices to the idols
to cast demons out of their own people.
He loudly prayed God to receive his soul
and strengthen the faith of the Christians,
and begged God to forgive those who were inflicting on him this torment.
He then departed as peacefully as if he fell asleep.”
We should say that there are people who don’t believe these stories
and relate them more to legend than truth.
It’s not for us to say what is true or not,
but most serious historians will at least tell you
that the stories from the bull’s surprising beginnings in Greece to Christian martyrs
not feeling any pain while being roasted are hard to verify.
What is very much true is that stories of the brazen bull
have been passed down through the ages
and those manuscripts can still be read today.
By the way, while you might see a brazen bull in a museum in the world,
it won’t be the real thing, only a depiction of one.
Have you seen worse in our other punishment shows?
Tell us in the comments.
And then go watch “Eaten Alive (Scaphism) – Worst Punishments In History of Mankind”.
Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe.
感谢观看 不要忘记点赞 分享 订阅
See you next time.
Welcome back to our macabre series of shows