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How Not To Die: The Dumbest Deaths
in Recorded History

Attila the Hun:

One of the most notorious villains in history, Attila's army had
conquered all of Asia by 450 AD--from Mongolia to the edge of the
Russian Empire--by destroying villages and pillaging the countryside.

How he died: He got a nosebleed on his wedding night

In 453 AD, Attila married a young girl named Ildico. Despite his
reputation for ferocity on the battlefield, he tended to eat and drink
lightly during large banquets. On his wedding night, however, he really
cut loose, gorging himself on food and drink. Sometime during the night
he suffered a nosebleed, but was too drunk to notice. He drowned in his
own blood and was found dead the next morning.

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Tycho Brahe:

An important Danish astronomer of the 16th century. His ground breaking
research allowed Sir Isaac Newton to come up with the theory of

How he died: Didn't get to the bathroom in time

In the 16th century, it was considered an insult to leave a banquet
table before the meal was over. Brahe, known to drink excessively, had
a bladder condition -- but failed to relieve himself before the banquet
started. He made matters worse by drinking too much at dinner, and was
too polite to ask to be excused. His bladder finally burst, killing him
slowly and painfully over the next 11 days.

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Horace Wells:

Pioneered the use of anesthesia in the 1840s

How he died: Used anesthetics to commit suicide

While experimenting with various gases during his anesthesia research,
Wells became addicted to chloroform. In 1848 he was arrested for
spraying two women with sulfuric acid. In a letter he wrote from jail,
he blamed chloroform for his problems, claiming that he'd gotten high
before the attack. Four days later he was found dead in his cell. He'd
anaesthetized himself with chloroform and slashed open his thigh with a

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Francis Bacon:

One of the most influential minds of the late 16th century. A
statesman, a philosopher, a writer, and a scientist, he was even
rumored to have written some of Shakespeare's plays.

How he died: Stuffing snow into a chicken

One afternoon in 1625, Bacon was watching a snowstorm and was struck by
the wondrous notion that maybe snow could be used to preserve meat in
the same way that salt was used. Determined to find out, he purchased a
chicken from a nearby village, killed it, and then, standing outside in
the snow, attempted to stuff the chicken full of snow to freeze it. The
chicken never froze, but Bacon did.

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Jerome Irving Rodale:

Founding father of the organic food movement, creator of "Organic
Farming and Gardening" magazine, and founder of Rodale Press, a major
publishing corporation.

How he died: On the "Dick Cavett Show", while discussing the benefits
of organic foods.

Rodale, who bragged "I'm going to live to be 100 unless I'm run down by
a sugar-crazed taxi driver," was only 72 when he appeared on the "Dick
Cavett Show" in January 1971. Part way through the interview, he
dropped dead in his chair. Cause of death: heart attack. The show was
never aired.

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A Greek playwright back in 500 BC. Many historians consider him the
father of Greek tragedies.

How he died: An eagle dropped a tortoise on his head

According to legend, eagles picked up tortoises and attempt to crack
them open by dropping them on rocks. An eagle mistook Aeschylus' head
for a rock (he was bald) and dropped it on him instead.

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Jim Fixx:

Author of the best selling "Complete Book of Running," which started
the jogging craze of the 1970s.

How he died: A heart attack....while jogging

Fixx was visiting Greensboro, Vermont when he walked out of his house
and began jogging. He'd only gone a short distance when he had a
massive coronary. His autopsy revealed that one of his coronary
arteries was 99% clogged, another was 80% obstructed, and a third was
70% blocked....
and that Fixx had had three other attacks in the weeks prior to his

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And finally there's Lully, one of our favorite 16th-century composers,
who wrote music for the king of France.

While rehearsing the musicians, he got too serious beating time with
his staff, and drove it right through his foot. He died of infection.

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