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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.)

Agathocles
(4 syl.), tyrant of Sicily, was killed by a toothpick at the age of ninety-five. Anacreon was choked by a grapestone. (Pliny: History, vii. 7.)

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., of France, conducting his queen into a tennis-court, struck his head against the lintel, and it caused his death.

Fabius,
the Roman praetor, was choked by a single goat-hair in the milk which he was drinking. (Pliny: History, vii. 7.)

Frederick Lewis,
Prince of Wales, died from the blow of a cricket-ball. Gallus (Cornelius), the praetor, and Titus Haterius, a knight, each died while kissing the hand of his wife. Gabrielle (La belle), the mistress of Henri IV., died from eating an orange.

Itadach
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.

Margutte
died of laughter on seeing a monkey trying to pull on a pair of boots. Otway, 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 was. Philomenes (4 syl.) died of laughter at seeing an ass eating the figs provided for his own dessert. (Valerius Maximus.)

Placut (Phillipot)
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.

Saufeius (Appius)
was choked to death supping up the white of an under-boiled egg. (Pliny. History, vii. 33.)

Torquatus (Aulus Manlius),
a gentleman of consular rank, died in the act of taking a cheesecake at dinner. Valla (Lucius Tuscius), the physician, died in the act of taking a draught of medicine.

William III.
died from his horse stumbling over a mole-hill.

Zeuxis,
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
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

More on Death from Strange Causes from Infoplease:

  • Death from Strange Causes - Death from Strange Causes Æ'schylus was killed by the fall of a tortoise on his bald head ...
  • Margutte - Margutte (3 syl.). A giant ten feet high, who died of laughter on seeing a monkey pulling on his ...
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