The brazen bull, bronze bull, or Sicilian bull, was a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece. Its inventor, metal-worker Perillos of Athens, proposed it to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily, as a new means of executing criminals. The bull was made entirely of bronze, hollow, with a door in one side. The condemned were locked in the bull, and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until the person inside roasted to death.
Phalaris commanded that the bull be designed in such a way that its smoke rise in spicy clouds of incense. The head of the bull was designed with a complex system of tubes and stops so that the prisoner’s screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull. According to legend, when the bull was reopened, the victim’s scorched bones “shone like jewels and were made into bracelets.”
Perillos said to Phalaris: “[His screams] will come to you through the pipes as the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings.” Disgusted by these words, Phalaris ordered its horn sound system to be tested on Perillos himself.