In battle, becoming distracted for even one moment can lead to a blunder in judgment or an unfortunate end. In this article, you will learn how a simple household item could lead to the death of a Greek general, as well as other odd ways to die during ancient times.
Pyrrhus of Epirus , Death by Roof Tile (and Beheading)
Pyrrhus of Epirus was a Greek conqueror, general, and statesman during the Hellenistic era. Throughout his career, he also ruled as king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, and in later years , King of Epirus and Macedon. The early Romans saw him as one of their strongest opponents. Although he was rather triumphant in many different battles, he still suffered a variety of losses, which led to the term ‘pyrrhic victory,’ which means that one has won but with many consequences.
When Pyrrhus was fighting in a battle in an urban section of Argos, he lost his life after an old woman tossed a roof tile at him. He became stunned by the act, which allowed an Argive soldier to take his life. Already, the battle was one that didn’t suit the commander, as he and his troops were caught in a layout characterized by narrow streets. The solider beheaded Pyrrhus and he died in 272 BC.
Pyrrhus left behind a legacy that spoke of benevolent ruler that didn’t always make the wisest of choices. However, he earned a place as one of the greatest military commanders of his time, especially in the eyes of Plutarch.
Marcus Licinius Crassus , Death by Wealth (and Molten Gold)
In ancient history, Marcus Licinius Crassus was involved with and accomplished many different events and milestones. The Roman general and politician was a commander of the left wing of Sulla’s army when they entered the Battle of the Colline Gate. He was responsible for surpressing the slave revolt led by Spartacus. Marcus also joined Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Gaius Julius Caesar in creating the First Triumvirate , an infamous political alliance with a strong influence.
Marcus was wealthy throughout his life and at his richest, had allegedly collected more than 200,000,000 sestertii, which made him the wealthiest man in Roman history. Marcus is also known for giving a young Julius Caesar the political backing and financial support he needed to succeed on his own. Despite his fortune, Marcus wanted to be recognized for his military accomplishments. Because of this, he eventually found himself in Syria, where he was defeated and killed.
It is said that the Parthians put Marcus to death in 53 BC after he lost the battle of Carrhae. It is believed that he was forced to consume a goblet full of molten gold, which symbolized his great wealth. Some debate whether this actually happened and suspect that molten gold was most likely poured into his mouth after he was executed as a way to send a message regarding the downfall that a thirst for wealth can cause.