Tag Archives: executions

A tale of three doctors

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Early print of an execution by guillotine, as proposed by Dr. Guillotin. Jean-François Janinet, c. 1789–1791. Musée Carnavalet, Histoire de Paris via Wikimedia. Public domain. “How true it is that it is difficult to benefit mankind without some unpleasantness resulting for oneself.” – Dr. Edme-Claude Bourru, giving Dr. Guillotin’s eulogy […]

The finality in their voices II: physiology-defying violent opera death

Lea C. Dacy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   The title character in Werther bleeding profusely from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but still able to sing an extended aria, used with permission from Alamy. In a previous article, we reviewed the plausibility of opera deaths in wasting diseases such as that of […]

Blood is the life

Saameer Pani Sydney, Australia   The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Giovanni di Paolo. 1455/60. The Art Institute of Chicago. Vampire—the  very  word  itself  conjures  up  images  of  supernatural  creatures  who  look  not  unlike  you  and  me,  prowl  about  at  night, prey on unsuspecting souls, and sink their fangs into innumerable, hapless victims to […]

J.I. Guillotin: reformer and humanitarian

It is a strange quirk of fortune that the name of a reformer and humanitarian who spent his life in the search of social justice should have become associated with a device used to decapitate people. Yet such was the fate of Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. Trained in his youth as a Jesuit, he then went […]