She Was Always a Leg Up on the Other Girls.
That’s Myrtle Corbin, who was born in 1868 as a dipygus, which is a medical term for “Is that an extra pelvis? Oh man, it totally is.” Myrtle spent her early years in a circus sideshow but later married a doctor, raised five children (using both of her two functional reproductive systems), lived to the age of 60.
Damnatio ad bestias (“condemnation by wild beasts”) was the act of condemning criminals to death by animal attack in the arena. Unlike the betiarii, who stood at least a small chance at defending themselves, those condemned via damnatio ad bestias were either defenseless, tied to the spot, or just naked and armed with a wooden weapon.
The very first case of damnatio ad bestias in Roman history occurred when Aemilius Paullus sentenced a group of army deserters to death in 167 BC. To make it interesting, he ordered them crushed to death by a horde of elephants. The spectacle proved so popular that death by animals became a part of everyday life for the Romans—literally. Every morning, a Roman citizen could go to the arena to watch such executions take place before an afternoon of actual gladiatorial combat.
Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven, 2007
Butterflies and household gloss on canvas