The brazen bull, bronze bull, or Sicilian bull, was allegedly a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece.


According to Diodorus Siculus, recounting the story in Bibliotheca historica, Perillos of Athens invented and proposed it to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily, as a new means of executing criminals.
The bull was said to be made entirely out of bronze, hollow, with a door in one side.
According to legends the brazen bull was designed in the form and size of an actual bull and had an acoustic apparatus that converted screams into the sound of a bull.


The condemned were locked inside the device, and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until the person inside was roasted to death.


Some modern scholars question if the brazen bull ever really existed, attributing reports of the fearsome invention to early propaganda. 
Regardless of what recent scholars believe, there is much written about this device being used throughout history.

for example, there were unfortunate souls cooked to death in a similar manor in more recent times within the camps inside Germany within the second world war.

The Brazen Bull Legend

The Brazen Bull was said to be invented by Perillos of Athens in the 6th century BC.

He suggested to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, to use the Brazen Bull torture device as the new method for executing criminals. It is also believed that Phalaris got disgusted by the description of the working of the bull presented by Perillos and ordered him to enter the Brazen Bull and show him how screams would actually sound.   Once Perillos entered the Brazen Bull, orders were passed to lock its doors and light a fire under it.

Perillos screamed and suffered inside the bull and when he was about to die he was taken out. He thought that Phalaris would reward him for this invention, instead, he threw him from the hill and was eventually killed.

This History of the Brazen Bull torture device was repeated when Phalaris was overthrown by the Telemachus as it was believed that he also died inside the Brazen Bull Torture Device.

How the Bull worked

The poor soul condemned into the bull was not placed inside until after the bull had been heated,
When the fire was stoked sufficiently, the poor soul would be thrown into the bull, where the heat of its metal body roasted him alive. The pipes and whistles converted the screams of the damned to the snorts and growls of a bull.

Types of Crimes punishable with the Brazen Bull

Criminals that had carried out serious crimes such as treason were subjected to punish with the Brazen Bull. Criminals were given such punishments in order to discourage the poor population from committing any more crimes. The Brazen bull was also used in order to punish people on the basis of Religious differences as historically it is believed that many Jews and Christians were executed with the Brazen Bull.

Roman persecution of Christians 

The Romans were reputed to have used this torture device to kill some Christians, notably Saint Eustace, who, according to Christian tradition, was roasted in a brazen bull with his wife and children by Emperor Hadrian. The same happened to Saint Antipas, Bishop of Pergamon during the persecutions of Emperor Domitian and the first martyr in Asia Minor, who was roasted to death in a brazen bull in AD 92.

The device is claimed to have still been in use two centuries later, when another Christian, Pelagia of Tarsus, is said to have been burned in one in 287 by the Emperor Diocletian.

The Catholic Church (however) discounts the story of Saint Eustace's martyrdom as "completely false".

More about the Brazen Bull in the Video Below (Spoken in English)

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