The Featured Image Of Brazen Bull Torture

Cruelty Unveiled: The Dark Legacy of the Brazen Bull Torture

Imagine being stuffed into a bull-shaped bronze enclosure and then put on fire. That’s how horrendous was the Brazen Bull Torture method of the medieval period. One of many bone-chilling torture devices that were used in ancient times is the Brazen Bull. Originating in ancient Greece, this was a truly gruesome torture contraption. It took the form of a hollow metal sculpture resembling a bull, featuring an opening at the top through which the victim’s head would be placed. The victim was, supposedly, burnt alive inside. This is how the medieval Kings and Authoritarians punished their adversaries and other criminals. Even though many say that the Brazen Bull is a myth, historical writings are ripe with anecdotes of it being used. Whether a legend or a reality, it surely sounds cruel. Let’s get to know more about it. 

What is Brazen Bull Torture?

Legend has it that Perillos of Athens introduced this apparatus to Phalaris, the sovereign of Acragas in Sicily. Perillos claimed that the Brazen Bull was a humane approach to executing wrongdoers. However, in reality, it proved to be even more merciless than conventional execution methods.

Phalaris, allegedly greatly impressed by the Brazen Bull, commanded Perillos to be its inaugural test subject. As Perillos was positioned inside the bull, he swiftly grasped that the device did not live up to his claims of humanity.

Desperate to be set free, Perillos pleaded for release, but Phalaris remained unmoved. Ultimately, Perillos met his demise within the searing confines of the Brazen Bull, becoming the inaugural victim of this brutal execution apparatus.

The hollow Brazen Bull featured an access door located at its abdominal region, allowing for one or more victims to be placed inside. Constructed entirely of metal, this contraption would be heated akin to an oven by kindling a fire beneath it. Pipes extending from the belly up through the nostrils were designed to transmit the agonized screams of the victims, creating an eerie resemblance to the bellowing of an actual bull.

Brazen Bull Torture Method

Brazen Bull Torture, by JoJan, is licensed under CC BY 4.0 DEED

Like any other torture device, the brazen bull method was nothing short of being absolutely cruel. The victims were burnt alive in a closed space, slowly and painfully. It is also believed that the screams that came out from these metal bulls sounded like music to those inflicting the torture. If that doesn’t sound gruesome, then nothing will. 

Within the hollow Brazen Bull, there existed an entryway positioned at its abdominal region, facilitating the placement of one or more victims. Crafted entirely from metal, this device would be heated like an oven by igniting a fire underneath it. Tubes ran from the belly upwards through the nostrils, serving the macabre purpose of conveying the anguished cries of the victims, producing a disturbing semblance to the bellows of a living bull.

Brazen Bull Torture Criminal Minds

The Brazen Bull
The Brazen Bull, by Dimitris Kamaras, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Brazen Bull is believed to have been used by Sicilian tyrants as a tool to mute any resistance, individuals who were thought to be a threat to the society and its religious environment, political opponents, rebels or even normal people who just came under the wrath of the tyrannical rulers of the time. Subsequently, during Ancient Rome, historical accounts suggest that several emperors employed the Brazen Bull as a method of torment for Christians, including individuals such as Saint Eustace and Saint Antipas.

How is Brazen Bull Made?

Legend has it that the bull was hollow and crafted entirely from bronze, featuring an entrance on one side. As per the tales, the Brazen Bull was meticulously designed to resemble an actual bull in both form and size, complete with an acoustic mechanism capable of transforming screams into the eerie sounds of a bull. 

The bull’s head was ingeniously outfitted with a network of tubes and stops, ingeniously engineered to transmute the agonized cries of the prisoner into reverberations reminiscent of the enraged bellowing of a bull.

Type of Criminals Punished with the Brazen Bull

Ancient Sicily was known for its tyrannical rulers who squashed any resistance, rebellion or religious discord with absolute disdain. And Brazen Bull was one of the popular ways of doing so. Historical accounts suggest that the Romans employed this gruesome torture device to execute certain Christians, most notably Saint Eustace. 

According to Christian tradition, Saint Eustace, along with his wife and children, was subjected to the horrifying fate of being roasted inside a Brazen Bull at the hands of Emperor Hadrian. A similar fate befell Saint Antipas, the Bishop of Pergamon, during the persecutions under Emperor Domitian in AD 92, as he too was roasted to death within the confines of a Brazen Bull. Astonishingly, the device is believed to have remained in use for another two centuries, with another Christian, Pelagia of Tarsus, reportedly meeting her end in one in AD 287 at the hands of Emperor Diocletian. 


Among many gruesomely inhuman torture devices, the Brazen Bull remains a mythical figure in ancient history. Some even argue that it was a fictional idea that took off due to many legends and that something like that never existed. However, several ancient writers have mentioned it in their writings and the way it was used. Whatever the reality be, the Brazen Bull was definitely a horrific way of killing people who may or may not have committed a crime. The way it functioned and the way it granted slow death to its victims is nothing short of bone-chilling. Even though ancient human history is ripe with several such torturous devices and methods, this one definitely sits right on the top of the list.

Also, if interested, check out – The Brutal History Of The Breaking Wheel: A Medieval Torture Device, The Disturbing History of the Pear of Anguish Torture Device, Medieval Tickle Torture: Tickling for the Truth, Drowning into Darkness: The Tub Medieval Torture, Thumbscrew Torture Device: Crushing Souls, Breaking Spirits

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