Extreme Methods of Punishment

From Roman Emperor Hadrian to the ancient Greeks, heat played an important role in their methods of torture. In this article, you will not only learn about Heat Torture, but you’ll also learn of two other ways that people in the past would punish their criminals and suspects.


When it comes to slow and painful deaths of the past, exposure is certainly at the top of the list. A popular form of torture during early medieval times, heretics and witches were fastened to the ground with iron nails. Their clothes were removed so that they remained naked while their legs and arms were spread out.

The sun would then beat down on their body, causing strong sunburns on the skin. However, this was not the only component of the torture, as wild animals also played a role. They would eat the victim while they were still alive, which caused varying levels of pain. A large animal meant that their death was quicker, while smaller animals only made the torture last longer.

Breast Ripper

In the past, women who were caught sleeping with another man could face the ‘Breast Ripper,’ which was designed to rip open the breasts, which often caused infections and eventually death within a couple of months. Women who were lucky to survive the torture were never quite the same. Popular during the Dark Ages, this form of torture was mainly used in the Inquisition.

Heat Torture

In what is now known as Greece, people living in ancient Turkey were subjected to a highly painful (as well as humiliating) form of punishment called Heat Torture , sometimes referred to as the Brazen Bull. Once an individual was convicted of a crime (and many times they were innocent), he or she was locked inside of a brass coffin, yet the feet were still fixed to the ground. At times, they were held in place with ropes, while other times, nails were used.

If you think this is the only part of the torture , it gets worse. The coffin was then placed vertically on top of a fire where it was left for hours until the brass became red with hotness.

This form of torture was most popular during ancient Greece, and was mentioned in writings of historians such as Herodotus. As time passed, Heat Torture became increasingly painful and started to be seen as amusement for onlookers. Torturers even outfitted the coffin with tubes to create different sounds from the screams of the victim. One of the sounds resembled that of an angry ox. The Brazen Bull became a favorite for certain rulers, including the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who would burn entire families using the device.