The man who invented what is often considered to be ‘the most painful torture device in history’ was the first victim of his cruel creation.
History is strewn with examples of horribly painful ways for a person to die and even scientists have weighed in on some of the most unpleasant ways to go out.
However, there’s absolutely nobody disputing that one of the most awful fates that could befall a person was to be locked inside the Brazen Bull, and ancient device used to torture and execute people.
Created in the 6th century BC by a Greek inventor, the torture device was a hollow sculpture of a bull made out of bronze with a trapdoor fitted into it and a set of pipes near the mouth.
The idea behind it was that a person would be locked inside the Brazen Bull and have a fire lit beneath them, cooking them alive while the pipes transformed the sound of their agonising screams into bellowing bull noises.
The supposed creator of this awful torture device was a man named Perilaus of Athens (or Perillus), who built the thing and presented it to Phalaris, the tyrant of the Sicilian state of Akragas.
Phalaris was an absolutely awful person who was renowned for his appalling cruelty. It is even claimed that he was a cannibal who ate newborn babies, so he was either one of the most evil people in history or he really angered some people enough for them to say he ate children.
Despite his renowned cruelty, Phalaris may not actually have asked for the Brazen Bull as some accounts say that rather than being commissioned to make it, Perilaus instead created the horrific contraption on his own volition and presented it to the tyrant in an attempt to get on his good side.
If you think the way to make friends with a guy is to invent the world’s worst torture device for him then you might wonder if he’s a friend worth having, but Perilaus didn’t really consider that when he presented his gift to the tyrant.
Phalaris asked the inventor to get inside the bull and demonstrate how the person inside making noises would sound to everyone on the outside, but once Perilaus climbed inside to show how his invention worked he was locked inside and a fire was lit beneath him.
The Brazen Bull’s inventor became its first victim, though he didn’t die from it as after being cooked alive for a while, he was removed from the bull on the orders of Phalaris.
If the inventor was hoping that his ordeal was over then he was very much mistaken as the tyrant had him taken to the top of a hill and thrown off to his death.
As for the bull, it stayed with Phalaris and became the tyrant’s new favorite toy and anyone he didn’t like was thrown inside and cooked alive.
The tyrant supposedly enjoyed the spectacle of the bull rocking back and forth as someone was burned to death inside it along with the noises it made, and then he had the bones of his victims made into jewellery.
Being cooked alive inside the Brazen Bull would have been unimaginable agony, and a person would have spent up to 10 minutes experiencing the horror of being roasted alive before they died.
The tyrant’s reign came to an end in 554 BC when he was overthrown and killed by being placed inside his beloved Brazen Bull.
That wasn’t the end of this awful torture device, as historical records note that the Carthaginians nabbed a Brazen Bull from Agrigentum, the Roman city built atop the ruins of Akragis, while the Romans later nabbed it back.