Worst atrocities in ancient history?

Nov 2014
192
United States
#1
What are the worst atrocities and excesses committed in ancient history?

It doesn't necessarily have to have a large body count. It could be the nature of the atrocity that makes it so horrible.

For me it would be when Basil ll was said to have captured 15,000 prisoners and blinded 99 of every 100 men, leaving one one-eyed man in each group to lead the rest back to their ruler.

Pretty twisted. And creative.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,151
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#2
The rape of the Sabine women sounds like a bad one, although I think the name is misleading and the whole thing by far not that terrible. Still an interesting ones. Horny Romans ...
 
May 2015
698
Far From Home
#3
What are the worst atrocities and excesses committed in ancient history?

It doesn't necessarily have to have a large body count. It could be the nature of the atrocity that makes it so horrible.
Behavior of Jewish revolutionaries against Rome in 1st and 2nd centuries was very bad. Roman historian Dion Cassii writes:

Meanwhile the Jews in the region of Cyrene had put one Andreas at their head and were destroying both the Romans and the Greeks. They would cook their flesh, make belts for themselves of their entrails, anoint themselves with their blood, and wear their skins for clothing. Many they sawed in two, from the head downwards. Others they would give to wild beasts and force still others to fight as gladiators. In all, consequently, two hundred and twenty thousand perished. In Egypt, also, they performed many similar deeds, and in Cyprus under the leadership of Artemio. There, likewise, two hundred and forty thousand perished. For this reason no Jew may set foot in that land, but even if one of them is driven upon the island by force of the wind, he is put to death. Various persons took part in subduing these Jews, one being Lusius, who was sent by Trajan.
Roman History, Vol. V

Not sure if this was "worst" ever. People always in all times are incredibly cruel to others. But since this both is very grotesque and large numbers of victims, it fits I think on this list.
 
May 2015
698
Far From Home
#5
Given the huge body count and the amount of stock 'let's show our enemies are savages' rumours, Dion Cassii is probably lying.
Who can know any thing ancient historians write is true? We only can guess. If we demand standards of modern proof for courts, no thing ever can be posted in this thread.

If you ask me: I think most likely numbers of victims much are exaggerated. But atrocities I think not by necessary are. Religious fanatics in Middle East even today do exactly monstrous things like this. If ISIS can have cannibals in 21st century, why not Jewish fanatics in 1st?

But really we can't know for sure. I just am pessimist enough, I think probably people were really this much evil.....:(
 
Jan 2015
23
greece
#6
Hasnt it been established that Basil
s blinding of 15000 Bulgars is pretty much an urban legend?It would have been a logistical nightmare anyway.
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
#8
Caesar supposedly killed a million people in Gaul. Even if the figure is remotely accurate, we have no idea what the ratio was of battlefield fatalities compared to genuine victims of what would modernly be termed war crimes. Cato the Younger claimed that Caesar should be given up to the barbarians in the name of justice, because of how many people he had killed. Obviously this was just the melodramatic hysterics of one of Caesar's most relentless critics, but it does tell us a little something - Caesar didn't play nice in Gaul, even by Roman standards, and it was apparently common knowledge in Rome itself. Otherwise, Cato wouldn't have made such accusations, and history wouldn't have remembered them.

The Roman conquests of Spain, Carthage, and Dacia, as well as the supression of Jewish rebels, all tended to be pretty heavy-handed, as well. Again, however, so much of this was just business as usual in the Iron Age Mediterranean.

Its worth noting that Rome's enemies also committed some atrocities. Mithridates of Pontos called for one of the first full-scale genocides in human history, destroying every Italian living in Asia minor during his reign. Incidents of anti-Roman cruelty are associated with other personalities, including Bar Kochva, Arminius, Boudica, various Carthaginian leaders, and more.
 
Last edited:
Jan 2015
1,309
meo
#9
Who can know any thing ancient historians write is true? We only can guess. If we demand standards of modern proof for courts, no thing ever can be posted in this thread.
Wrong, the estimated number is unrealistic. That's why we came with a conclusion that Dion was just lying. If you want to make up story, make it realistic first. And dont make such childish statement, even if we use standards of modern proof, a lot of thing can still be believed.
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,365
Slovenia
#10
What are the worst atrocities and excesses committed in ancient history?

It doesn't necessarily have to have a large body count. It could be the nature of the atrocity that makes it so horrible.

For me it would be when Basil ll was said to have captured 15,000 prisoners and blinded 99 of every 100 men, leaving one one-eyed man in each group to lead the rest back to their ruler.

Pretty twisted. And creative.
Year 1000 is no ancient history.

From later times one of my preferences would be Vlad Tepes' impaling of thousands of people on the road turkish sultan had to cross while trying to get to his lands and fight him.

One of biggest human created disasters was Battle of Salsu. Biggest natural disaster would be sinking of roman fleet in 1st Punic war with over 100.000 casualties near coast of Sicily.
 

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