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Fwd: Was Alexander The Great Poisoned By Toxic Wine?

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  • Justin Mansfield
    Theories like this are usually a bit pointless, but this is at least food-related. ... From: Date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM Subject:
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 14, 2014
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      Theories like this are usually a bit pointless, but this is at least food-related.

      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: <susiem2837@...>
      Date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM
      Subject: Was Alexander The Great Poisoned By Toxic Wine?
      To: iustinus@...



      The Huffington Post  |  By Meredith Bennett-Smith Posted: 01/14/2014 8:41 am EST  |  Updated: 01/14/2014 8:41 am EST
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      GET WORLD NEWSLETTERS:
      Alexander The Great poisoned
      Could wine containing a potentially lethal dose of a white flowering plant have caused the death of one of the world's most fearless leaders?
      Researchers have long pondered over theunexplained death of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian military leader who conquered a vast swathe of territory between the eastern Mediterranean and India before dying in Babylon in 323 B.C.
      After his death, Alexander's military exploits were embellished to the point of legend, as were the many suggested causes of his untimely passing at about age 33. But now a new journal article analyzing the king's demise suggests a poisonous wine may have been the culprit.
      The article, published this month in the journal of Clinical Toxicology, was co-authored by the University of Otago's Dr. Leo J. Schep, who has been studying Alexander's death for almost a decade. The researcher, from the National Poisons Centre in New Zealand, theorizes that Alexander was killed by a toxic wine created using a fermented form of Veratrum album (also known as white hellebore) sometimes used to induce vomiting, the New Zealand Herald reports.
      That mixture could have contained a fatal dose. Indeed, the study authors detail the potential deadliness of the plant in the study abstract:
      Veratrum poisoning is heralded by the sudden onset of epigastric and substernal pain, which may also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, followed by bradycardia and hypotension with severe muscular weakness.
      After evaluating a wide variety of potential poisons, the paper's authors concluded that the white hellebore idea was the most plausible theories involving poison, given that the leader's alleged symptoms matched the kind the plant would have produced, Schep told The Huffington Post in an email.
      "Exposure to extracts from this plant causes clinical effects similar to [Alexander's] reported signs and symptoms," he told HuffPost. "Of note was the duration of symptoms, which could continue for more than 12 days if intoxicated patients are not treated."
      As to how the wine may have been administered, Schep told HuffPost that the "medicinal properties" of Veratrum album were well known at the time. Therefore, "someone with such knowledge, who was able to obtain the plant extract, and had access" to Alexander or his chalice could have poisoned him. Schep singled out Alexander's cup bearer as a possible suspect in such a scenario.
      Schep was first asked to participate in the investigation into Alexander's death ahead of a BBC documentary on the subject back in 2003, the New Zealand Herald reports.
      "They asked me to look into it for them and I said, 'Oh yeah, I'll give it a go, I like a challenge' - thinking I wasn't going to find anything," Schep said, per the outlet. "And to my utter surprise, and their surprise, we found something that could fit the bill."
      Of course, poisoning is not the only theory surrounding Alexander's death. Researchers have offered up many different hypotheses, ranging from a deadly bacterium found in the River Styx to typhoid fever to excessive drinking.
      But all of these theories are missing a key piece of evidence: Alexander's remains.
      In a 2011 conversation between historians James Romm and Paul A. Cartledge, the experts noted that while several theories including Schep's are intriguing, until the missing corpse of Alexander is discovered -- and possibly autopsied -- it will be almost impossible to prove any cause of death definitively.

    • hail_isis
      Some old Greek wrote about the dangers of honey from hives that were near areas abounding with toxic plants poisonous to humans. The honey could make one mad,
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 14, 2014
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        Some old Greek wrote about the dangers of honey from hives that were near areas abounding with toxic plants poisonous to humans.  The honey could make one mad, sick, or dead.  or so it was said ...

        Happy Makar Sankranti!
        Demetria
      • Justin Mansfield
        Yeah, Dalby says this is mentioned by Roman sources. I m too lazy to look up the specifics, but apparently Corsican, Sardinian, and Pontic honey were
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 14, 2014
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          Yeah, Dalby says this is mentioned by "Roman sources." I'm too lazy to look up the specifics, but apparently Corsican, Sardinian, and Pontic honey were considered risky for this reason.


          On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 2:33 PM, <hail_isis@...> wrote:
           

          Some old Greek wrote about the dangers of honey from hives that were near areas abounding with toxic plants poisonous to humans.  The honey could make one mad, sick, or dead.  or so it was said ...

          Happy Makar Sankranti!
          Demetria


        • Correus
          What is the Roman sources you mention - book, web site, etc.? ________________________________ From: Justin Mansfield To:
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 14, 2014
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            What is the "Roman sources" you mention - book, web site, etc.?



            From: Justin Mansfield <iustinus@...>
            To: Apicius@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 3:18 PM
            Subject: Re: [Apicius] RE: Fwd: Was Alexander The Great Poisoned By Toxic Wine?

             
            Yeah, Dalby says this is mentioned by "Roman sources." I'm too lazy to look up the specifics, but apparently Corsican, Sardinian, and Pontic honey were considered risky for this reason.


            On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 2:33 PM, <hail_isis@...> wrote:
             
            Some old Greek wrote about the dangers of honey from hives that were near areas abounding with toxic plants poisonous to humans.  The honey could make one mad, sick, or dead.  or so it was said ...

            Happy Makar Sankranti!
            Demetria



          • Justin Mansfield
            Well, that s what I meant by I m too lazy. Dalby includes a list of ancient sources he consulted for his entry on Honey, but he doesnt specify which he
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 14, 2014
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              Well, that's what I meant by "I'm too lazy." Dalby includes a list of ancient sources he consulted for his entry on Honey, but he doesnt' specify which he means by "Roman sources" that mention poisonous honey. And I don't have time right now to look each one up and check. I mean, maybe another day.


              On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 6:46 PM, Correus <correus@...> wrote:
               

              What is the "Roman sources" you mention - book, web site, etc.?



              From: Justin Mansfield <iustinus@...>
              To: Apicius@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 3:18 PM
              Subject: Re: [Apicius] RE: Fwd: Was Alexander The Great Poisoned By Toxic Wine?

               
              Yeah, Dalby says this is mentioned by "Roman sources." I'm too lazy to look up the specifics, but apparently Corsican, Sardinian, and Pontic honey were considered risky for this reason.


              On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 2:33 PM, <hail_isis@...> wrote:
               
              Some old Greek wrote about the dangers of honey from hives that were near areas abounding with toxic plants poisonous to humans.  The honey could make one mad, sick, or dead.  or so it was said ...

              Happy Makar Sankranti!
              Demetria




            • wimb3612
              Hi, I know this is way late, but I ve only just joined the group. I think these are some of the references you were seeking are Xenophon in his account of the
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 14, 2014
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                Hi,

                   I know this is way late, but I've only just joined the group. I think these are some of the references you were seeking are

                Xenophon in his account of the  march of the ten thousand from Persia back to Greece gave  a lurid description of hundreds of his soldiers eating tainted honeycomb. The result was diarrhoea, vomiting, apparent  drunkenness and then collapse as if dead. They all recovered but it took them 3 or four days.The source is Xenophon. Anabasis. 4.8

                 

                Mithridates V of Pontus ( not a nice man) was said to have left  hives of toxic honey in the path of Pompey’s legions in the third Mithridatic war in 65 bce with similar results, except that this time the Romans, once they were all rolling around in agony, were massacred by Mithridates' troops. The source is Strabo. Geographia. 12.3.18

                 

                Pliny noted that the honey produced  in Heraclea was poisonous in some years, and not in others, depending on the weather ans what plnts had good seasons.. The source is Book 21.44 of the Historia Naturalis.

                 

                I guess the point is that poisonous honey was pretty well known and recognised in the ancient world.

                 

                thanks,

                 

                Howard Posner



                 
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