Throughout history, there have been various instances of cruel and unusual punishments inflicted upon individuals as a form of retribution or deterrence.
Here are some examples:
The Brazen Bull
Designed in ancient Greece, the Brazen Bull, also known as the Sicilian Bull, was a solid piece of brass with a side door that could be opened and latched. With a fire set underneath, the victim would be put inside the bull and would be slowly roasted to death. The Brazen Bull was specifically designed to amplify the screams of the victim and make them sound like the bellowing of a bull.
Drawing and quartering
Drawing and quartering is one of the most infamous methods of cruel and unusual punishment. It’s still difficult to believe it’s an actual thing that was conceived by actual humans and happened to actual unfortunate souls.
The punishment was first doled out in England in the 13th century. The accused was drawn—tied to a horse and dragged to the gallows—and then usually hanged, maybe disemboweled, or beheaded. Afterward, the condemned was quartered, i.e. had his body split in quarters, sometimes by tying each limb to a different horse and having them run in opposite directions. This punishment was reserved for those guilty of treason, and was abolished in 1867
Ling chi, also known as “slow slicing” or “death by a thousand cuts” was a method of torturous execution practiced in China. The condemned was tied to a post and bits of skin and limbs were gradually removed one by one, usually culminating in a final cut to the heart or decapitation. It was used as early as the 10th century, and continued for nearly a thousand years. Luckily it was banned in 1905.
The victim is hung upside down to ensure that the blood will rush to their heads and keep them conscious during the torture procedure. The torturer would then cut the victim’s body in half. Most were sawed only up to their abdomen to prolong the agony.
Of all the torture devices, the rope is the easiest to use and the easiest to find. An example of a rope torture would be to use it to tie the victim to a tree, leaving him exposed and defenseless from animals and other humans. Another would be to hang the victim at the gallows while ultimately inflicting death. It could also be used to restrain the victim’s limbs while attaching the other end of the rope to horses which would be then made to run, consequently severing the victim’s limbs.
The neck torture was sort of an endurance test which involves hooking the victim into a neck device that’s either made of wood or metal. The cruelty of this torture lie within the fact that it prevents the victim from eating or lowering their head for days.
In ancient Romania, those who were sentenced to death by impalement were forced to sit on a sharp and thick pole. When the pole was raised upright, the victim would eventually slide down the pole with their own weight. It take 3 days for the victim to die. Impalement was believed to be the most favored method of execution of Vlad the Impaler who has been known to impale 20,000 people while eating his meal.
Rat torture apparently lives on in the minds of creative types, as it has been featured recently in the film 2 Fast 2 Furious and in the TV series Game of Thrones. In this terrifying (and, I’ll admit, creative) form of torture, a hungry and/or diseased rat is placed in a bucket on the victim’s bare stomach or chest. The bucket is then heated from the outside, and the agitated rat chews its way through the unfortunate person’s flesh…and any organs it happens to encounter on its way out.
While the term “white torture” can mean any psychological torture in general, the meaning here is more literal. White torture is a type of sensory deprivation in which a prisoner’s cell, clothes, and even food are entirely white. Guards wear all white, lights are kept on 24 hours a day, and no words are spoken. No color is seen. It was documented in the case of Amir Fakhravar, who was arrested in his native Iran and subjected to white torture for some 8 months in 2004. While the physical pain of sensory deprivation is minimal compared to other tortures on this list, the psychological damage is beyond compare. Fakhravar was quoted as saying when he was released, he was not a normal person anymore, and could no longer remember even the faces of his parents.
Judas cradle is a bit similar to impalement. The punishment starts by sitting the victim on the pyramid-shaped cradle. The victim would then be forced down by ropes with the intention of stretching the victim’s orifice over a long period of time, impaling him slowly. The victim was usually undressed and the device was seldom washed – meaning, if the torture doesn’t terminate the victim, the infection contracted from it would.