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Hemlock growing in 5th century BCE Greece

Hemlock is a highly poisonous plant, though it has been used medically since the antiquity.


5th century BCE

During the Peloponnesian War, the Spartan misthios Kassandra was asked by the healer Hippokrates to gather some hemlock for his elderly patient, Pentheus.[1]

Given hemlock's high toxicity, too high amount would lead to quick death.[1][2] During the Peloponnesian War, the pirates who took over the island of Keos avoided the looming famine by forcing everyone over the age of 60 to drink a concoction made of hemlock, killing them.[3]

1st century BCE

During the 1st century BCE in Ptolemaic Egypt, a poisoner Melina the Hibiscus used hemlock as part of the concoction which made the sacred crocodiles of Krokodilopolis' Temple of Sobek ill, irritable, and bleed from their eyes.[4]


When the hidden blade of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian Assassin, was upgraded to include poison, the poison used was originally distillation of hemlock, though he later replaced it with henbane.[5]

American Revolution

The deadliness of hemlock was also utilized by the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton during the American Revolution, as his arsenal included small knives coated with a poison derived from the hemlock.[6]



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