It is obvious that death is an unavoidable step of our existence but sometimes we have witnessed certain ways to go which, if we forgot they were sad events, they would probably draw a smile on our face.

Aeschylus, 525 – 456 a.C.

Aeschylus production is immortal, the ancient author is known all over the world as the father of tragedy as he was one of the three big Tragic Greeks, along with Sophocles and Euripides. This is the well known part of his life; the odd bit is the one linked to his death, one of the most surreal ones ever been told. In reality Aeschylus is

the only documented case of death occurred due to a tortoise

It seems that the great writer had been victim of his own baldness: according to many historical sources, Aeschylus died when a eagle, mistaking his bald head for a rock. Apparently the animal dropped a tortoise aiming at the Greek’s head in order to crack open the tortoise shell and eat it. The man did not survive the impact of such a shot from that high and died.

Pietro Aretino, 1492-1556

Pietro Aretino was an interesting character, even more so when you discover him deeply. Man of a fiery and rebel temperament, he was in his own way a big influence on the arts and politics of his time. What made him popular was his disdain for any sort of authority both civil and religious, very often target of his satirical writing. He died the same way as he had lived, i.e. happily. Although there are several versions of his death, the most reliable one tells how Sir Aretino died suffocated during a party with his friends for the too many laughter.

Drakon, VII sec. a.C.

Drakon is known as one of the very first legislators in history. Probably he was the first one who put pen to paper and wrote a series of codes and laws, which later on would have formed the first Athens constitution, substituting the oral tradition. Drakon’s laws were reflecting its master’s features:

clear, rigorous and in many ways merciless

Drakon used to put the public interest before everything and had very little consideration of citizens as human beings. Even to this day the expression “draconian law” translates into severe legislation. The Athenian population though, despite the bitter nature of the man and his laws, were very appreciative of his work as they were seeing in him the representation of the divine justice.

Their appreciation for him was lethal for the man of politics; back then the tradition had it that the people would throw their capes to the feet of respectable characters. While the legislator was visiting the Isle of Aegina for a manifestation in his honour, the crowd submerged him with capes all the way to cause his death for suffocation.

Tennessee Williams, 1911 – 1983

Tennessee Williams was probably one of the biggest playwrights of all the American history and his stories were known also for the many film adaptations. His incredible career lasted almost six decades and some of his work such as “The Rose Tattoo” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” today considered as classic. What people are not aware of is a curious habit of Williams, which supposedly costed him his life.

Every night  he was used to applying on himself eye drops, always by following the same procedure: he would open up the bottle, hold the lid in his mouth, he would sit down and pour the drops on. Something did not go well on the night of his death though: in the death certificate, the medical examiner declared that Williams died suffocated by the lid of the drug he was using. Subsequently some further speculations came up, insinuating of a drugs and alcohol abuse, but that theory was never officially proven.

Li Bai, 701 – 762

Li Bai is one of the most famous figures in the Chinese poetry scene yet not very much heard of in Western society. Well known for his excessive romanticism, love for the nature and all that he understood, the man died according to his past existence. He was known as “the man who tried to kiss the moon”: apparently the poet tried to kiss the reflection of the moon on the water, leaning from the boat where he was with the following falling from it and dying drowned. The people next to him described him as a alcoholic hence they believed it was likely that the man was drunk when the accident occurred. Ironically, a few weeks before his death, he wrote down a composition with the title “Drinking alone underneath the moon”.

Arius, 256 – 336

Arius was a figure who certainly left a mark in history. According to some sources, he was the mind behind great arguments such as the “Arian controversy”. His teaching about the supremacy of the Father over the Son made him popular in all the Christian world, and his opposition to the Trinity was a fundamental point for the Council of Nicaea. Despite his huge influence to politics and religion, he is mainly mentioned for his peculiar death.

According to Socrates of Constantinople, Arius was walking through the Imperial Forum of Constantinople when an abrupt and violent diarrhoea, followed by hemorrhage, pushed out of his body parts of his intestines causing the almost immediate death. Many of his enemies saw this “extraordinary type of death” as a form of divine punishment for his heretical ideas. In reality this was very likely nothing but the result of poisoning.

Pyrrhus of Epirus, 319 – 272 a.C.

According to Hannibal, Pyrrhus was the greatest strategos that he had ever met, second only to Alexander the Great. During his Kingdom he managed to become King of the Epirus, of the ancient Macedonia, Sicily and one of the few who defeated the Roman army. Many historians agree that if he had survived longer, the ancient history would have to be rewritten.

After many bloody battles, the statesman had a ignoble end. During a civil battle, in the city of Argos, Pyrrhus found himself trapped within the alleys of the city and an old woman threw a roof tile from her house. The king was stunned so a soldier of the city took advantage and managed to kill him. Many historians believes that Pyrrhus died because of the strike to his head and that the soldier just beheaded the already dead body of the man.

Hans Steininger, 1508- 1567

What is certain in this story is that if the Guinness World Record had existed when the Austrian Hans was alive, he certainly would have been the man with the longest beard. According to the estimation, it measured in fact  1.5 metre (5 ft). What the sources tell us about this man is that one day he stumbled upon his long beard and fell from the stairs, breaking his own neck.

Béla I, 1015 – 1063

Béla I was King of Hungary relevant for his successful campaign which he led against Henry III to defend the independence of his country. Since his childhood, Béla wanted to become a King but, in his situation, that was not an easy task.

Sadly he was coming from a big family, with many siblings and relatives all interested to the throne. After many battles with inner and outer enemies, in 1061, he succeeded in becoming the King of his country. Sadly not for long though: Béla died due to the severe injuries sustained, not from a valorous fight, but from the fall of his enormous wooden throne. Béla, almost dead, hold by his soldiers got taken to the borders of his Kingdom where eventually died on the banks of the river Kinizsa. The mocking destiny seemed to have him killed for what he had fought the most for his whole life

His own throne

All pictures are in the public domain

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