13 Particularly Unusual Deaths

On August 22, 2014 by Tim Newman

There’s nothing funny about death really. But there is a lot of certainty to it. No person who’s ever lived hasn’t had to face it and roll under it. I compiled this list of people who’ve died in odd ways as some kind of catharsis I suppose. It’s easy to over think death but, the fact of the matter is, it will come when it’s good and ready, and there’s little you can do about it.

You can keep fit and healthy, that’s a good idea. Eating well, sleeping well and behaving yourself may prolong your earthly existence; but soya curd, pulses, antioxidants, morning runs and Quorn burgers won’t stop a truck, a frozen column of wee falling from a aeroplane, a massive impromptu sink hole, al-Qaeda or malaria.

I think it’s OK to laugh behind your hands at some of the following oddball dispatch methods. Laughing at the way people have conked out relieves a bit of the pressure. We’re not alone in dicing with Dr Death, and hey, maybe it’ll lower your blood pressure a tiny touch. Who knows?

1) Draco c.620 BC

Weirdest Deaths - Draco Athens 2

Draco’s laws were the first written constitution of Athens and were posted up on wooden tablets so that no one could claim ignorance.

Some of his laws were pretty harsh, for instance, the punishment for stealing a cabbage (among many other things) was execution. When asked why execution was the punishment for most crimes Draco said that the smaller crimes deserved the death penalty and there was no worse punishment to give out for the more serious crimes.

So the manner of Draco’s death seems a bit odd: he is said to have died under a shower of gifts. The people of Greece threw hats and cloaks at him until he was buried alive. That seems like an odd way to go for someone who’s name became synonymous with overly harsh rules.

2) Aeschylus 455 BC

Weirdest Deaths - Aeschylus tortoise drop

Aeschylus the great author of Greek tragedies met a pretty odd demise. The legend goes that a tortoise was dropped on him by an eagle. The eagle mistook his head for a rock.

To make this tale even more brilliant, Pliny claimed that at the time of his death Aeschylus had been staying outdoors as much as possible due to a prophetic warning that he would be killed by something falling from above. Brilliant.

3) Chrysippus 206 bBC

Weirdest Deaths - Chrysippus died laughing

This jovial philosopher is recorded as having died laughing. Apparently he saw a donkey eating his figs so he ordered his servant to bring the donkey some wine to help wash the figs down. The mirth of the event was too much for old Chrysippus to deal with and he keeled over with joy, permanently.

4) Hans Steiniger – 1567

Weirdest Deaths - Hans Steiniger

Steiniger was an important figure in Branau, Austria. He was the equivalent of a modern mayor or governor. Steniger had a massive beard that stretched to over 4.5 feet in length. He generally kept his facial pet rolled up in a leather pouch, but the one day he neglected to keep it tucked away he tripped over it. He died of a broken neck.

5) Clement Vallandigham – 1871

Weirdest Deaths - Clement Vallandigham

Vallandigham was a hot shot lawyer and controversial politician. His anti-war stance at a time of war got him into regular trouble, many didn’t appreciate his “habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy.” Tut tut.

Whilst defending a man being charged with a bar brawl murder, he decided to demonstrate how the victim may have shot himself as he drew his pistol from a kneeling position. Vallandigham thought the gun was empty, he was wrong. The trigger snagged on his clothing and was discharged into his gut.

The defendant was cleared thanks to this water tight demonstration, but Vallandigham died from the wound in his abdomen. Surgeons failed to find the errant shot and his intestines got infected.



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