The brazen bull is a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece by Perillos, a brass-founder, for Phalaris, the cruel tyrant of Agrigentum, Sicily, who ruled from about 570 to 554 BCE. Perillos cast a hollow brass bull that had a door on its side, allowing the condemned to be placed inside it. A fire lit beneath the bull would roast the victim alive. The device was designed so that the victim's screams would sound like the bellowing of a bull. Who, ironically, was its first victim?
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Back in the day
Hart was an American outlaw whose notoriety stemmed primarily from the fact that she was female. Her early life was fairly ordinary. She grew up wealthy and eloped at 16. In 1893, after seeing Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, she left her abusive husband and went west, where she acquired a taste for cigars, liquor, and morphine. In 1899, she helped rob a stagecoach, making away with over $400. She was apprehended, escaped, was recaptured, and then tried for her crimes. Why was she later pardoned?
Born on a day like today
Barrientos was elected vice president of Bolivia in 1964, but he soon broke with the president and joined other army officers in a coup. He was installed as head of a military junta and became the sole president after winning the 1966 elections. He launched a moderate—albeit military—administration, retaining the reforms instituted by his predecessors. Three years later, he died in a helicopter crash. Why did he once jump out of an airplane with a parachute that had earlier failed to open?