Would poison by hemlock, as in the case of Ancient Greeks like Socrates, have been slow and painful?

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I assumed such a method would take hours of severe stomach cramps and headaches before death, or that the digestive system would expel the poison through vommit as a natural reaction, but then why would these civilised Ancients have chosen such a method?

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Patrick H

Hemlock kills through paralysis, from the feet upwards. What usually kills is respiratory paralysis which, as an asthmatic, I would imagine to be unpleasant but not agonising as it would be progressive and you would be unconscious fairly quickly once the lungs were affected. Also the heart would become paralysed. My guess is that It would be over fairly quickly once the paralysis got to the chest area.


Socrates actually described his own death by hemlock poisoning.
Socrates was anti-democratic and had caused pain and death to the citizens of Athens. He deserved to die, but due to his ‘status’ in Athenian society, he was allowed to choose his own method of death, having had the sentence of death passed upon him by the court and jury.
Socrates – the undemoctratic


hemlock ,belladona,either of these ,if one took either and lay in a warm bath ,slit one wrists,one would slow slip away ,i do no remember which greek did it this way, but one of them did hope this helps,i would think almost painless


“Socrates was anti-democratic and had caused pain and death to the citizens of Athens. He deserved to die,”
What a load of utter rubbish. What pain and death did he cause? Absolute drivel!


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