brazen adj. 1 flagrant and shameless; insolent. 2 made of brass
– Canadian Oxford Dictionary
Torture is a technology of tyranny.
The message is intended for those foolhardy enough to think of resisting a tyrant’s wishes.
It is the affect on the majority not the tiny numbers of actual victims. Torture creates a prison without bars and there are both physical and psychological types of torture.
William Blake suggests that lies and deceit: forges fetters for the mind.
Brazen Bull was a form of torture that was popular for a few centuries that I was not aware of.
…cast a bull, made entirely of brass, hollow, with a door in the side. The condemned were shut in the bull and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until it became “yellow hot” and causing the person inside to roast to death.
So that nothing unseemly might spoil his feasting, Phalaris commanded that the bull be designed in such a way that its smoke rose in spicy clouds of incense. The head of the ox was designed with a complex system of tubes and stops so that the prisoner’s screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull. It is also said that when the bull was reopened, the scorched bones of the remains shone like jewels and were made into bracelets.
It seems Phalaris (who allegedly ate suckling infant children) liked the invention a lot but wanted to have it tested. Perillos, ever the ambitious servant, hopped right into the device and true to reputation…
… Phalaris immediately locked him in, and set the fire…
Perillos believed he would receive a reward for his invention; instead, after freeing him from the bull, Phalaris threw him from the top of a hill, killing him.
The lesson here is that anyone that invents new ways to enable tyranny, should not expect either laurels or a quiet death at a ripe old age.
It appears to have taken the lives of some martyrs, notably Saint Eustace (and family), Saint Antipas and Saint Pelagia of Tarsus in 287.
The website HowStuffWorks fleshes things out a bit:
- the victims usually had their tongues cut out first (better audio?),
- as things heated up, the occupant thrashed about which mimicked a bull’s movement (visual as well as audio),
- the improved movement and sounds gave great amusement for the audience, while
- distancing themselves from the brutality of the torture (reduced cognitive dissonance), and in the spirit of continuous improvement
- the device became more sophisticated.
This form of torture was similar to being boiled alive but the without the visible fuss. A party game like Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Lawsuits are simply there to provide an illusion of remedy (pretense of remedy) which is not without entertainment value to a decaying empire’s elite.