Stabbing, crucifixion, eaten by eels: be taught all about homicide the Roman method

University of Birmingham historian Dr. Emma Southon explores murder in ancient Rome in her new book, <em>A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum</em>.

Enlarge / College of Birmingham historian Dr. Emma Southon explores homicide in historical Rome in her new e book, A Deadly Factor Occurred on the Technique to the Discussion board. (credit score: Abrams Press)

There as soon as was a rich Roman man named Vedius Pollio, notorious for sustaining a reservoir of man-eating eels, into which he would throw any slaves who displeased him, ensuing of their grotesque deaths. When Emperor Augustus dined with him on one memorable event, a servant broke a crystal goblet, and an enraged Vidius order the servant thrown to the eels. Augustus was shocked, and ordered all of the crystal on the desk to be damaged. Vidius was compelled to pardon the servant, since he might hardly punish him for breaking one goblet when Augustus had damaged so many extra.

That servant appears to have been spared, however many others had their “bowels torn asunder” by the eels. And that is simply one of many many horrific methods the traditional Romans devised to kill those that displeased or or offended them, from crucifixions and feeding folks to wild beasts, to setting slaves on hearth, and assassinating Julius Caesar on the Ides of March. Historian Emma Southon covers all of them in her wittily irreverent new e book, A Deadly Factor Occurred on the Technique to the Discussion board: Homicide in Historical Rome, displaying us how the folks of historical Rome seen life, loss of life, and what it means to be human.

Inspiration struck in April 2018, when the infamous Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, was arrested—a giant day for true crime aficionados like Southon. Whereas chatting with a fellow true crime buff and historical past instructor, Southon realized that her pal typically used true crime as a instructing instrument for particular cultural biases—as an example, utilizing the instance of Jeffrey Dahmer as a context for discussing homophobia within the 1990s. Intrigued, Southon looked for a real crime e book about killings in historical Rome, solely to comprehend that no one had written such a e book. So she got down to rectify that grievous oversight, and the result’s a pleasant mix of true crime and historical historical past.

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