The Thracians are widely reported as being hardcore mothers with a penchant for death and destruction so it’s no surprise that they loved a bit of sawing in half every now and again. One of their most ferocious leaders was king Diegylis, and his son Ziselmius wasn’t much nicer. Ziselmius was reported to have sawn a number of people in half with his own hands and forced the deceased’s relatives to eat their family members flesh. The Thracians eventually rebelled against their cruel master and Diegylis was killed after an extensive and comprehensive suite of tortures.
In Roman culture death by sawing was pretty rare, except whilst nutjob extraordinaire Caligula (below) was at the helm. He’s said to have watched this type of execution whilst eating, saying that the suffering acted as an appetizer. Even some of Caligula’s own family members fell foul of this type of torture, he wasn’t a particularly nice chap. He favoured cutting across the torso rather than the balls to brain direction.
In Hebrew tradition Isiah is reported by some to have been sawn apart under the orders of King Manasseh of Juda. During the Kitos War (115-117 AD) when Jews rebelled against Roman rule one report tells of some pretty impressive battle stats: in Cyrene, 220,000 Greeks were massacred by the Jews and 240,000 in Cyprus. Many of these were supposed to have been sawn apart. One writer goes on to say that the Jews licked up the blood of the slain, and “twisted the entrails like a girdle about their bodies”. It seems likely that the author was embellishing for the purpose of propaganda though.
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