Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Brazen Bull

My life has come full circle. Let me explain...

When I was little and we only had three channels. Eventually my dad would take over and I would have to watch a documentary. The ultimate low was one time when he was watching one about the dung beetles.

Well now I'm the dad. I have control of the TV and I have hundreds of channels to choose from. What do I pick? The Discovery Channel. Yep, a channel that consists primarily of documentaries.

Well one of those was about an ancient Greek means of execution: the Brazen Bull.

It goes like this, long, long ago in a land far, far away, there was an evil king who 
hired an artist to help him come up with a new method of execution.  It had to be painful.  It had to be beautiful.  It had to last a while.  Most of all, it had to be art.  The artist, scholars think, drew upon the worship of Moloch.  Now Moloch (not one of your normal Greek deities since he came from Middle Eastern origins - better known as Baal - yep, the dude from the bible) had horns, bulls associated with him, and probably human sacrifices. 

This bull was made of bronze and was large - large enough to put someone inside.  A door was put on its back and when the victim was put in, the door could easily be shut and fastened from the outside.  Then a fire was lit underneath and the victim would then fry to death in the inside of the bull.  

Now this is nothing exceptional.  The entertainment value was nil since the bull's thick skin keeps any sound from escaping and it scents the air with burnt people (much similar to the smell of burnt popcorn (O.K., I'm guessing there - not very knowledgeable in the olfactory joys of human sacrifices)).  Not to mention the fact that the victim would suffocate before feeling too much pain (relatively speaking).  This is where the device gets it clever side.   First, herbs and flowers were put inside to mask the burnt people smell.  Then, inside the bull was a pipe coming from the mouth to where the victim would be.  The victim could get fresh air, but when screaming, the trumpet-like pipes magnified the sound so that it came out like the sound of a bull snorting/roaring/mooing.  Now that is entertainment.  So at banquets this king would bring out the bull and say, "Hey guys, lets make the bull roar!"  Great fun for all!

You can see part of this at this link: 

O.K., next time well go back in space and hit a little girl named Lilith.


Dani Harper, Author said...

OMG - I viewed the video and have to say that really lifted the hair on the back of my neck. Of course I would have been shrieking from claustrophobia long before the fire was lit...

Imagination abused and art misused. The evil seems compounded by that.

Mark Alford said...

That was just a clip. I saw the whole thing. I can't remember if it was in the clip or not but you'll be glad to know that the first victim of the bull was none other than the artist. The king wanted to hear what it would sound like and the artist climbed in to show him. Well, duh, the king closed the lid and set the fire to get a truly authentic sound.

Anonymous said...

OMG... that is horrible! What a wicked king!... he burnt the artist? still i suppose the artist deserved to die for creating such a torturous contraption!!