Friday, November 25, 2011

What torture people can tolerate?

Robert Damiens, an assassin and member of the Paris underworld in the eighteenth century, was hired by unknown conspirators to take the life of King Louis XV.

The attempt failed, Damiens was apprehended, and the greatest torturers of the time were brought to Paris to try to get him to divulge the names of his associates. Damiens' skin was torn from his body, his hair, eyelids, and elbows were singed to shreds, his teeth and finger joints were wrenched out. He was dragged about at the end of a rope tied to a team of horses. He was sprinkled from head to foot with acid and seething oil.

Throughout all this horror, Damiens, who finally died from his wounds, never revealed the names of his employers Historians still argue both questions Who was it that hired Damiens? And, more mysterious, why did he so steadfastly refuse to divulge their names?