The Greek inventor, Perilaus of Athens, was the real-life version of the Jigsaw Killer from the Saw movies, and when he met Phalaris, the tyrant of the Sicilian state of Akragas, he was finally able to build the most terrifying torture device ever.
Phalaris himself had a bit of a torture fetish, and with human rights pretty much non-existent in the 6th century BC, the meeting between the two men gave birth to one of the evilest torture devices ever thought up – the brazen bull.
The bull of Phalaris was the size of a real bull, but hollow and made entirely out of bronze with a door on one side.
Anyone deserving of Phalaris’s scorn was locked inside the device, and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until the person inside was roasted to death. Often, victims survived for as long as 10 minutes before dying.
As if the cooking of another person wasn’t enough for the mad tyrant, the bull was designed with a system of tubes so that the prisoner’s screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull.
Phalaris is even said to have ordered the bull be designed in such a way so that smoke would rise in ‘spicy clouds of incense’. Yes, the tyrant of Akragas was a sicko of note.
According to legend, when the bull was reopened after a body was charred, the victim’s scorched bones then “shone like jewels and were made into bracelets.”
When Perilaus presented the brazen bull to Phalaris, the ruler insisted that the inventor climbs into the device himself to test the acoustics. However once inside the tyrant shut the door behind him and ordered a fire to be lit underneath. Naturally, Perilaus kicked up a monstrous fuss inside, which apparently satisfied the tyrant, so he released him.
He then escorted Perilaus to a nearby mountain cliff and threw him off the edge and to his death.
The bull of Phalaris was used often in the years that followed until finally Phalaris was overthrown in a general uprising by Telemachus, and in perhaps the biggest ‘karma is a b*&%#’ moment of the 6th century, the crazy tyrant was thrown into his own torture device and slowly roasted to death.
In the centuries that followed the device was widely used by the Romans, until 287 AD when Emperor Diocletian was finally cooked. Today you can see a replica of the bull in the Torture Museum in Bruges.
And if you still have the stomach for it, check out the video below to see how this nightmare device worked:
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