Re: Protections (06/12/14 08:56:14)
"Mithridates had tried to make away with himself, and after first removing his wives and remaining children by poison, he had swallowed all that was left; yet neither by that means nor by the sword was he able to perish by his own hands. For the poison, although deadly, did not prevail over him, since he had inured his constitution to it, taking precautionary antidotes in large doses every day;"
Poisoning is an interesting matter anyway. There's some of it in history. Some of the stories may be propaganda - but when there is sufficient distance in time, there may be grains of entertainment in them too.
"The Borgias were experts in poisons for the mind, but in the decoction of poisons for the body they have attained a mastery which has never been equalled in the history of the human race. Their skill and knowledge of the terrible art died with them; they have left to history the name of their dreaded poison, "cantarella," but the secret of its preparation and the manner of its use are buried with them. Modern science has evolved toxicology, a special knowledge of poisons, but the "cantarella" of the Borgia Pope has baffled even the experts in toxicology. We can only guess at its composition by the symptoms of its victims. How the pope and his interesting family were able on the one hand to prepare the so-called "eternity powders" warranted to insure death in a few minutes and on the other hand contrived the manufacture of so-called "time poisons" which killed within a desired period will never be known.
It is now generally believed that the base of the "cantarella" was arsenic. Arsenic in its pure form, unless taken in large doses, rarely kills outright. Indeed the human system has shown itself capable of absorbing small doses of arsenic regularly without any apparent evil effect. There is a province in Austria known for its "arsenic eaters." They are hardy mountaineers who after years of regular use of the drug, even in quantities far beyond a medicinal dose, seem to enjoy excellent health. The attempt to kill a human being with one dose of arsenic in its pure form results in symptoms at once distressing and characteristic.
The Borgias, therefore, disdained the use of arsenic in such form as something too coarse and too obvious. They discovered that when arsenic is mixed with inorganic matter it loses none of its lethal qualities, but kills more unostentatiously. In this way they learned the art of making doses of varying strength—in other words the "time poisons." Much, of course, depended on the matter of solution and mixture with wine, milk and other liquids. According to one report the raw material of the "cantarella," or its original crude form, was obtained in this manner. Some animal, by preference a pig, was slaughtered and disembowelled. The entrails were then freely sprinkled with pure arsenic. The poison checked but did not entirely arrest the ensuing process of putrefaction. After allowing a certain time to elapse, the semi-putrid matter was squeezed out. The juice thus obtained became far more deadly than arsenic in its pure form but continued just as tasteless. All now depended on the size of the doses, the manner of mixing it, and the best way of administering.
To ascertain the exact effects of given quantities and given mixtures the pope and his son Cesare experimented for some time on living animals. These experiments being not entirely satisfactory, they next tried out their preparations on human beings. It may have been this diabolical work which gave them that pre-eminence that has associated the word poison with the name of Borgia in the minds of all readers of history. The victims, always of humble origin, having served their purpose, were flung into the Tiber through the secret passageways in the Castel S. Angelo. Many of these subterranean openings exist in the historic building to this day, but others have been walled up since it passed out of possession of the popes."
If I remember right, I read first time about this in Dumas' Monte Christo. It's a clinical trial system that now has been largely abandoned.
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