Scaphisme

I den store spændende kategori af ting som du strengt taget ikke behøver at vide for at leve et lykkeligt liv, følger her beretningen om Mithridates’ død som beskrevet af Plutark.

And, therefore, he decreed that Mithridates should be put to death in boats; which execution is after the following manner: Taking two boats framed exactly to fit and answer each other, they lay down in one of them the malefactor that suffers, upon his back; then, covering it with the other, and so setting them together that the head, hands, and feet of him are left outside, and the rest of his body lies shut up within, they offer him food, and if he refuse to eat it, they force him to do it by pricking his eyes; then, after he has eaten, they drench him with a mixture of milk and honey, pouring it not only into his mouth, but all over his face. They then keep his face continually turned towards the sun: and it becomes completely covered up and hidden by the multitude of flies that settle on it. And as within the boats he does what those that eat and drink must needs do, creeping things and vermin spring out of the corruption and rottenness of the excrement, and these entering into the bowels of him, his body is consumed. When the man is manifestly dead, the uppermost boat being taken off, they find his flesh devoured, and swarms of such noisome creatures preying upon and, as it were, growing to his inwards. In this way Mithridates, after suffering for seventeen days, at last expired. ()

Scaphisme, “en med langsomme Pinsler forbunden Livsstraf“, (*) nemlig ved at fastgøre offeret mellem to udhulede træstammer, på sådan vis at kun arme, ben og hovede stikker ud, give dem honning til til både ind- og udvortes brug og udstille dem i solen og lade insekter og andet kryb foretage resten af henrettelsen. Sytten dage er i øvrigt lang tid.

Lukian har en lignende men måske lidt mere raffineret historie:

“‘I’ve got it!’ said someone at last, after various proposals had been considered and turned down. ‘Now you must admit this is a real stroke of genius. It’ll mean sacrificing the donkey, but he’s always been too nervous to be very much use to us, and now he’s pretending to be lame—and anyway he aided and abetted the girl in her attempt to escape. So let’s slit his throat tomorrow morning, and rip open his stomach and pull out all the guts. Then we can put our young friend inside him with just her head sticking out, so that she doesn’t suffocate immediately. When we’ve got her comfortable, we can sew up the donkey’s stomach, and put them both out for the vultures. I bet they’ve never had such a tasty dish before. But just think what it’ll be like for her! First of all having to take up residence in a dead donkey—then being cooked in a sort of oven on a hot summer’s day under the blazing sun—then slowly dying of hunger, and not even being able to suffocate herself—not to speak of the other little inconveniences like the smell of the rotting carcass and the worms crawling all over her. And finally, the vultures will probably eat their way in and start tearing her to pieces while she’s still alive, under the impression that she’s part of the donkey.’ Everyone applauded this proposal and appeared to consider it a wonderful inspiration, but I was absolutely horrified. As if it was not bad enough to have my own throat cut, my wretched body was doomed to become the grave of that poor innocent girl!”

En ikke specielt rar måde at komme af dage på, men en ting er sikkert, og det er, at trods Politikens og andre velmenende humanisters nidkære forargelse over hvad der overgik Gaddafi efter han faldt oprørernes hænder – tænk sig, man har ved inspicering af diverse filmklip kunnet observere Gadaffi prukken i numsen med en pind – så skal slynglen nok bare prise sig lykkelig over at han levede i det 20. og 21. århundrede! Man har behandlet tyranner og andre med betydeligt mindre sentimentalitet til andre tider.

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(*) jvf. Meyer – af det græske σκάφη, et kar, trug eller båd og latin scapha, en lille båd.
Plutark. John Drydens oversættelse fundet her
Lucian: Lucius or the ass. Trans. by Paul Turner. Bloomington 1958