Death from Strange Causes
Æ'schylus was killed by the fall of a tortoise on his bald head from
the claws of an eagle in the air. (Valerius Maximus, ix. 12, and
Pliny: History, vii. 7.)
(4 syl.), tyrant of Sicily, was killed by a toothpick at the age of
was choked by a grapestone. (Pliny:
Bassus (Quintus Lucanus)
died from the prick of a needle in his left thumb. Chalchas,
the soothsayer, died of laughter at the thought of having outlived the
predicted hour of his death. Charles VIII.,
conducting his queen into a tennis-court, struck his head against the
lintel, and it caused his death.
the Roman praetor, was choked by a single goat-hair in the milk
which he was drinking. (Pliny: History,
Prince of Wales, died from the blow of a cricket-ball. Gallus
the praetor, and Titus Haterius, a knight, each died
while kissing the hand of his wife. Gabrielle (La belle),
mistress of Henri IV., died from eating an orange.
died of thirst in the harvest-field because (in observance of the
rule of St. Patrick) he refused to drink a drop of anything.
Lepidus (Quintus Æm'ilius),
going out of his house, struck his great toe against the threshold
and expired. Louis VI.
met with his death from a pig running
under his horse and causing it to stumble.
died of laughter on seeing a monkey trying to pull on a pair of
the poet, in a starving condition, had a guinea
given him, on which he bought a loaf of bread, and died while
swallowing the first mouthful.
Pamphilius (Cneius Babius),
a man of praetorian rank, died while asking a boy what o'clock it
(4 syl.) died of laughter at seeing an ass
eating the figs provided for his own dessert. (Valerius Maximus
dropped down dead while in the act of paying a bill. (Bacaberry
the Elder.) Quenelault,
a Norman physician, of Montpellier, died
from a slight wound made in his hand in extracting a splinter.
was choked to death supping up the white of an under-boiled egg. (Pliny. History,
Torquatus (Aulus Manlius),
a gentleman of consular rank, died in the act of taking a
cheesecake at dinner. Valla (Lucius Tuscius),
died in the act of taking a draught of medicine.
died from his horse stumbling over a mole-hill.
the great painter, died of laughter at sight of a hag which he had
just depicted. It will be observed that four of the list died of
laughter. No doubt the reader will be able to add other examples.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894