This week spans an impressive six centuries of death.
But before we round up the motley bunch, let us take you much further back in history – to 401 BC no less.
Sadly we don’t have an exact date, so instead we offer you the execution method to top all ways to despatch the condemned.
The poor subject was a Persian soldier called Mithridates (not to be confused with the Persian kings of the same name). He was sentenced to death for killing royalty in the shape of Cyrus the Younger as detailed in Plurarch’s ‘Artaxerxes’.
Some say it was accidental while others murkily put it down to more sinister reasons – it could well have been assassination.
But enough of that, for it’s the method you’re after. Well our man Mithridates was executed by the slowest, most drawn out method we’ve stumbled across: scaphism.
According to John Dryden’s translation of Plutarch’s work, Mithridates was laid in a boat on his back. Another was then upturned and put over him to ensure he was sandwiched leaving his head and limbs exposed.
Mithridates was then fed and if he refused, they forced him to eat ‘by pricking his eyes’. But, more of that later.
Once that was done, he was ‘drenched’ from head to foot in milk and honey and left to the mercy of the voracious swarms of flies which flocked in their thousands at the thought of a free meal.
So, back to all that food he’d been force-fed…well it had to go somewhere, and having relieved himself, Mithridates had unwittingly sent an open invitation to the weevils, maggots et al ‘and these entering into the bowels of him, his body [was] consumed’.
But we’re not talking a fast process. His being eaten alive from the inside and out took a whoppingly agonising 17 days in this, surely the most sadistic method of torturous execution.
So, lunch anyone?
Back to this week’s offerings…
26 February 2000 – Betty Lou Beets
Why waste time with divorce when you can bump your husband off instead, thought Betty Lou Beets? And this is how the Texan managed to offload two of her five husbands.
27 February 1902 – Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant
Eloquent to the end, Harry ‘Breaker’ Harbord Morant shouted “Shoot straight, you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it” as he faced his firing squad. Morant was sentenced to die for his activities as a soldier during the Second Boer War at the turn of the 20th century.
28 February 1658 – Major George Strangwayes
Money-grabbing greed or just sheer jealously may have prompted Major George Strangwayes to kill his sister’s husband in the mid-17th century. Strangwayes murdered his brother-in-law for fear of losing his inheritance and was executed for his actions on this day in 1658.
29 February 1528 – Patrick Hamilton
It took Scottish clergyman Patrick Hamilton six hours to slow roast today in 1528. He’d been found guilty of heresy and sentenced to be burned at the stake.
1 March 1546 – George Wishart
A keen advocate behind the early rise of Protestantism in Scotland was executed on this day in 1546. George Wishart became a martyr to the Protestant cause when he was put to death today in the mid-16th century.
2 March 1974 – Salvador Puig Antich
Catalan activist Salvador Puig Antich was executed for murder during Franco’s right-wing dictatorship.
3 March 1903 – Edgar Owen (aka Edwards)
Triple murderer Edgar Owen got greedy. It was his deadly avarice that led to his execution on this day in 1903. Edgar Owen (aka Edwards) was hanged for wiping out an entire family. The victims had been hoping he’d snap up their business, but he took their lives instead.