There’s not really any good way to die, but there are some pretty weird ways to die. The worst part about dying a weird death? It doesn’t matter if you blazed new trails in your field. You’re always going to be the guy who tripped over his own beard and broke his neck. Whether it’s death by laughter, caviar or… turtle, witness the weirdest demises on record.
1. Aeschylus: Aeschylus was a master of Athenian tragedy and thus influenced Western literature about as much as the guys who wrote The Bible. His own death sounds like something out of Greek myth itself. Aeschylus started living outdoors because it was prophesied that he would die by falling object. An eagle dropped a turtle onto his bald dome, mistaking it for a rock, killing him. You can’t avoid your destiny, gang.
2. Chrysippus: Chrysippus was a Greek stoic philosopher who is credited with being the man who systematized most of the philosophy. There are two versions of his death, one in which he drank himself to it and the other where he laughed himself to death watching a donkey eat figs. True story: You can actually die of laughter, but you technically die of asphyxiation or cardiac arrest while laughing.
3. Edward II of England: This one is less “strange” and more “awful.” King Edward II was deposed from the throne and imprisoned by his wife and her paramour. They eventually offed him by sticking a horn up his butt and then using that to feed a red hot poker deep into his guts. For what it is worth, some historians have argued that this is a yarn designed to discredit Edward.
4. George Plantagenet: Plantegenet kept switching sides during the War of the Roses, from Yorkist to Lancastrian, then back again. Eventually, he was convicted of treason against his brother, Edward IV, the first Yorkist King of England. At his own request, he was drowned in a vat of wine, which seems like a way better way to go than a red-hot poker up the backside.
5. Hans Steininger: Be careful of the length of your beard, gents. Hans Steininger was a burgomaster (a sort of medieval mayor) of Braunau, a town in Upper Austria. He had a 4.5-foot long bead that he typically carried around with him in a leather pouch. The one day he didn’t, he tripped over his own beard and broke his neck.
6. Thomas Urquhart: Urquhart was known for many things, including translating the work of French poet Rabelais into English. He fought alongside King Charles II during the English Civil War. He was imprisoned by Oliver Cromwell but later released, after which he retreated to the safety of the continent. When informed that Charles II had taken the throne, he died, possibly like Chrysippus, in a fit of laughter.
7. King Adolf Frederick of Sweden: Schoolchildren in Sweden know King Adolf Frederick as “the king who ate himself to death.” He ate lobster, sauerkraut, caviar, kippers and champagne, then went ahead and had a whopping 14 servings of semla (a sweetroll) in a bowl of hot milk. Remember his example during bulking season.
8. Allan Pinkerton: Allan Pinkerton is known to history as the founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He tripped over a Chicago sidewalk and just about bit his tongue nearly off. He survived that just fine, but what he couldn’t survive was the gangrene that set in later. Watch where you’re walking.
9. Jack Daniel: You like Jack Daniel’s whiskey, but you could also learn a lesson about keeping control of your temper from his death. He was having trouble opening a safe, which got him so worked up that he kicked it hard enough to break his toe. Much like our friend Allan Pinkerton, that resulted in an infection, which later killed him.
10. Basil Brown: There’s always something amusing about healthy lifestyle advocates who don’t make it to the age of 50. Basil Brown was just such a man, dying of a Vitamin A overdose after drinking ten gallons of carrot juice over the course of ten days. Everything in moderation, folks.