Surviving Poison Hemlock

Stivala, Joan
July 2013
Melbourne Historical Journal;2013, Vol. 41 Issue 2, p81
Academic Journal
The article discusses philosopher and politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca's attempted suicide by the ingestion of hemlock. The author investigates why the hemlock failed to kill Seneca. It is suggested that while the dose used may have been too diluted to be lethal, it is more likely that a non-poisonous plant resembling hemlock was accidentally selected and used. Details on accounts of Seneca's death written by historians Cassius Dio and Tacitus are presented. Other topics include the research of 19th-century physician John Harley, the symptoms of hemlock poisoning, and the degradation of hemlock over time.


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