Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tunica Molesta

FLG was just watching the Ancient Discoveries on the History Channel. He's never seen it before, but this episode focused on torture.

As part of this "investigation" they decide to build a tunica molesta. They try different stuff before creating a paste with wax in it. Then they put it on a guy wrapped in protective gear and light him on fire. At the end of this, the announcer says something like "the accounts of this are apparently true. Romans could make a tunic that would burst into flames and sustain for more than a minute."

Ya don't say?

This is a civilization that built roads, aqueducts, and the Coliseum. They discovered concrete and conquered vast swaths of territory. I think they could handle a tinsy feat like lighting people on fire. Speaking of which, perhaps that whole Prometheus and Pandora myth slipped you guys by. Mastery of fire ain't exactly the most advanced technology.

I know. It was just an excuse to light a guy on fire to appeal to that base pyromaniac element that exists in most men for ratings, but it still pissed me off.

1 comment:

The Ancient said...

Remember Death in the Afternoon? At one point, Hemingway turns to the little old lady sitting next to him who is having such a good time at the bullfight and asks what she likes best. She says she likes the sound made when the bulls impale the horses.

He says, Madam, you are a mystic.

Human beings don't change all that much, ever.

(Perhaps one of the classical scholars here can improve on this (or contradict it), but my recollection is that when several thousand Christians were crucified in the gardens of the Domus Aurea under Nero, their bodies were brushed with tar so they might also burn while they still lived.)

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