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Oddest Ways to Die: Ancient Times III

Laughter is often described as the best medicine, but you probably never thought that it could actually cause someone to die. Around 207 BC, the Greek stoic philosopher Chrysippus is said to have died of laughter. In this article, you will also learn how a young Jewish warrior fighting in a revolt met his end.

Chrysippus , Death by Laughter

Chrysippus of Soli moved to Athens, Greece when he was a young man to study in the Stoic school under the guidance of Cleanthes. When his teacher passed away around 230 BC, Chrysippus was promoted to the position of third head of the school. The philosopher was also an accomplished writer who wrote many publications, including an expansion of the fundamental doctrines of Zeno of Citium, who was the founder of the school. Because of this, Chrysippus was called the Second Founder of Stoicism.

Chrysippus was said to write at least 500 lines a day and ended up producing more than 700 works. He was comprehensive in his writing and would take present both sides of an argument. Sometimes, his opponents accused him of filling the pages of his publications with the quotations of others.

Equipped with logic, theory of knowledge, ethics and physics, Chrysippus worked on subjects and themes that involved the universe and the role of humanity. When he taught ethics, he stressed the importance of understanding the nature of the universe. Throughout Greece and Rome, he was known for furthering Stoicism to become one of the most influential philosophical movements for many centuries.

Chrysippus died during the 143rd Olympiad when he was 73 years old. There are two different accounts of his demise. The first tale states that the philosopher became dizzy after drinking undiluted wine at a feast and died shortly after. Another account says that he was watching a donkey eat figs and cried out, “Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs.” He started laughing uncontrollably and died soon after.

Eleazar Maccabeus , Death by Elephant

It was a large animal that led to the death of Eleazar Maccabeus, who was crushed to death during the Battle of Beth-zechariah during the Maccabean revolt. As a war elephant believed to have been carrying Seleucud King Antiochus V charged into battle, Eleazar made his way to the creature and thrust a spear into its stomach. He was underneath the elephant at the time and when the beast fell to its death, it landed on top of Eleazer.

Eleazar was the fourth son of Mattathias (a Jewish priest who led a revolt against the Syrian Greeks) and the younger brother of Judas Maccabeus (who is known as one of the greatest Jewish warriors). Not much is known about Eleazar except that he died as a hero. Despite his efforts, the Jewish army he was a part of was smaller and was defeated in the battle that resulted in his death.