The power of poisons: From Cleopatra to Socrates and Cyclops

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Feb. 26, 2015

Ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave discusses some little-known facts about historical poisoning deaths, as well as how a plant poisons could be reason behind the myth of Cyclops.

Why did Cleopatra choose to be bitten by a poisonous snake when she had access to any number of plant poisons to commit suicide?

In the video below, Emory ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave explains how the Egyptian queen experimented before picking her poison. She also describes how the myth of Cyclops may have originated from the effects of a medicinal herb.

Poison has shaped history, myth and medicine in myriad ways. Over time, people have discovered ingenious ways to transform and make use of plant poisons for use in agriculture, fishing, hunting and medicine.

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