Killer Honey: How the Army of King Mithridates of Pontus Defeated the Romans in 65 BC.

Maria Tsikhotska

Killer Honey: How the Army of King Mithridates of Pontus Defeated the Romans in 65 BC.

During the Third Mithridates War, when the Roman Empire was expanding its power in Anatolia between 73 and 63 BC, Roman soldiers encountered the cunning and treacherous Pontic king Mithridates VI, who was known as the poisoner king.

An entire Roman military column was exposed to hallucinogenic honey produced by bees in the region along the Black Sea coast. This honey was called "mad honey", and after drinking it, a person became disoriented and unable to resist the attackers.

IFLScience writes about it.

After King Mithridates' father was poisoned, he became obsessed with poisons. The king was fond of pharmacology and, after testing some types of poisons on himself, became insensitive to them.

According to historians, Mithridates' troops shot poisoned arrows at the Romans, released "wasps and wild animals" into Roman siege tunnels, and even created chemical weapons from oil.

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During a battle with the Roman army in 65 BC, Mithridates' soldiers used "mad honey" to fight the enemy. It is produced by bees that feed on the nectar of a special rhododendron that contains a high concentration of grayanotoxins, a class of neurotoxins that cause hallucinations, loss of coordination, and nausea. If a large dose is ingested, heart problems can occur.

According to the ancient historian Strabo, Mithridates' men left bowls of "mad honey" on the path of the Romans, who lost their bearings after drinking it. This made it easy for the army to deal with them.

Although this successful battle did not change the outcome of the war, in which the Pontic Kingdom was destroyed by the Romans, it went down in history. Mithridates himself, after losing, wanted to commit suicide with poison, but his body was so accustomed to its effects that he was forced to ask his bodyguard to kill him.

We have already written about the mysterious story of the disappearance of Fabergé eggs.

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