Phalaris of Acragas Roasted People Alive In a Hollow Bull Statue
Phalaris of Acragas was a pretty effective leader; he built his city-state into a prosperous, well-equipped place to raise a family. In theory, this makes his dominion one of the best spots to crash-land when your homemade time machine inevitably breaks down and leaves you stranded in the 6th century BCE. In practice, it would take roughly 0.2 seconds for Phalaris to give the order to roast your ass alive in a metal torture chamber shaped like a bull.
Phalari (the elected dictator of Acragas - now Agrigento - Sicily between 570 and 554 BC) is a perfect example of mankind's oldest dilemma: do you tolerate a capable leader if said leader also enjoys doling out sadistic torture every now and then? His favorite method was known as the brazen bull. This hollow bull statue was presented to him by a Greek artist named Perillos. The bull had a trapdoor installed in the belly, so the condemned could be shut inside the statue, and a roaring fire would be lit underneath. As the metal heated, the person trapped inside would be gradually roasted to death. To literally add insult to injury, the bull's mouth featured an acoustic device that would convert the victim's screams to a low, drawn-out sound not unlike the mooing of Satan's own livestock.
As depicted here:
via deantiquashistoriam.wordpress.comIt's like if Jigsaw had been a Star Wars nerd.
Unfortunately for Perillos, he failed to realize that personally handing a new, ingenious torture/execution device to a bloodthirsty dictator with weak impulse control might be a poor life decision. As soon as Phalaris was given his new toy, he demanded a demonstration from the artist himself -- and by that, we mean he locked Perillos within the contraption. As its maker's screams would soon demonstrate, the bull worked exactly as advertised, so Phalaris had Perillos rescued from the bull ... only to have him immediately thrown off a cliff to his death.