Wednesday, January 25, 2012


What a waste of a perfectly good chicken!

My research assistant here at St. Thomas recently reported to me that in 7th century Rome, those convicted of murdering a parent were sentenced to death. Not just any death, either, but a very unusual one: The convict was placed in a sack with a rooster, a dog, a viper, and an ape, and then they were all drowned.

I've heard of some strange execution techniques (frankly, the current American technique of three drugs in sequence is pretty strange, in its own way), but this is the strangest.

This raises some very interesting questions:

1) Where did they get an ape in Rome?
2) What was the point of drowning extraneous animals with the convict?
3) What kind of project is this assistant researching, exactly?
4) Is it possible to consider this situation without thinking about McGyver?
5) How did the Romans finally get rid of this method of execution?
6) Which thing in the sack would live the longest?
7) What would RRL do?

I don't know about the rest, but 5 is pretty easy:
After a wave of patricides (side note: it is a well known fact that Romans were more prone to killing their fathers and not their mothers), there was only a single rooster left in Rome. Justifiably concerned that no one would wake up on time without the rooster's signal of the arrival of morning, it was decided a new form of execution was necessary.
That's as good a reason as any to stop drowning people in a bag of animals.

I have read two explanations that the sack was meant to represent the womb. One historian commented that the animals were a representation of corruption within the womb. Another historian says the Romans were just sadistic, which contributed to their downfall. Patricide was also one of the few crimes a Roman citizen was put to death for besides treason.

What am I researching? We'll see...
Oh, and two of the people I have talked to mentioned McGyver.
RRL's smoking would subdue the animals, and he then would use the snake's fangs to cut through the bag.
2.Romans didn't seem to need points to get things done
3.The mind blowing hubris of those who decide to establish the exact time of a life's end
5.Miserable demise
6.The viper: reptiles have a way with water
7.Barbecue the chicken and tell the rest to go to hell
They have apes on Sicily?
With the popularity of gladiators I wonder why the Romans did not allow these bag occupiers to engage in a death match.

If the human somehow won they deserve to live, right? Or, lets put them in the ring with the other gladiators and see what happens...
Fredo, the apes in Sicily evolved a little since Roman times, they are now a fairly organized bunch, call themselves Cosa Nostra.
1.They only had to look to their own senate. "Apes" was merely a euphemism for senators of the most conservative sort. They were effective in driving the offender stark,raving mad,by repeating one single word over and over and over.That word was "No!" This created the most exquisite torture: one had the horrific sensation of drowning mentally and physically all at once.
2.Lone Animals of a certain species placed in a bag with other lone representatives of another species,rather like donuts,would have a tendency to attack one other.This animalian donnybrook would preclude moments of peace of mind or spirit,that might prepare one to meet his Maker,causing yet more anxiety,to say nothing of the pain when bites are taken out of him and eyes are pecked out. Boy! those Romans sure knew how to have a good time. If they had taken the same amount of time that they put into trying to figure out the most exquisite torture and put it into solving certain egregious problems in The Empire,we all might be singing "Volare" today.
3. The relationship between depravity and capital punishment. The Romans used what they had on hand. Today the height of our scientific advancement revolves around needles and deadly intravenous potions. Antiseptic.Convenient. Cold. Efficient. It only seems to be not like murder. In either case,Ancient Rome or 21st Century America someone is doing the killing for us.So that we are able to hear it in a newsbrief in an instant and forget it instantly.Perhaps Rome was more moral.At least the victim was occupied fending off animals and was not obliged to consider carefully how his body was step by step shutting down.
4.Yes,since he is not my favorite problem solver. I prefer Rockford.
5.They were executed themselves in rather spectacular fashion by Huns.
6.The snake. It is impossible in such close quarters in the dark to avoid those fangs and snakes can swim. Perhaps the dog would have ripped open the sack,affording him a convenient hole.
7. The Man of Mystery would have to kill us if he told us any of his wily escape tricks. He himself is slipperier than Houdini.The snake and the ape and the dog would have escaped from the sack in dire panic,simply to avoid his deadly grip...and I mean that in a purely complimentary way.
And one more question: #8. What about the on-going battle for supremacy between Osler's nodes and Janeway's lesions?
7. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Do the rest of the answers even matter?
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