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Discussion: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The BorgiasReported This is a featured thread

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mgscarsbrook
mgscarsbrook
Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 18 2011, 7:48 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 18 2011, 7:48 AM EST
Since writing my novel about Lucrezia Borgia, I've always been fascinated with the especially potent poison that the Borgias were rumored to have created to dispatch their rivals -- Cantarella.

For anyone who doesn't know, legend states that Cantarella was brilliant white, slow acting venom, that was pleasant to the taste. Unlike many active venoms, Cantarella did not overwhelm a victim’s vital forces by a sudden, energetic action. Instead, it worked to insensibly penetrate the veins, with a slow but deadly effect.

Although history doesn't record the contents of this toxic compound, experts speculate that it may have a variant of arsenic or Cantharidine powder (made from tiny beetles). In small doses, cantharides have an aphrodisiac effect, but medium-sized doses can cause internal lesions and death.

Although no one can be sure if Cantarella ever existed, or if the Borgias actually used it to kill anyone, it would certainly make you think twice if they invited you to dinner!
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Kittywake09
1. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 18 2011, 8:56 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 18 2011, 8:56 AM EST
Yes it was nicknamed "The Liquor of Succession" amongst others 22  out of 28 found this valuable. Do you?    
Melisende
Melisende
2. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 28 2011, 6:58 PM EST | Post edited: Jan 28 2011, 6:58 PM EST
How accurate this is I have no idea - but the process sounds so time consuming:

"It is believed that first of all a hog was killed with arsenic. Its abdomen was opened and sprinkled with more powder, which contained more poisons. Some historians think that the powder contained just arsenic, but it might have contained other poisons as well. The animal was then allowed to putrefy. The juices which trickled from the decaying corpse were collected and evaporated till only dry powder remained. This dry powder was called La Cantarella."

From the website: "POISONS, ANTIDOTES AND ANECDOTES"
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Kittywake09
3. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 28 2011, 11:11 PM EST | Post edited: Jan 28 2011, 11:11 PM EST
EEKS can you imagine the smell? ye I have read it was arsenic based mixed with other poisons which is more likely. 6  out of 11 found this valuable. Do you?    
SaraPoole
SaraPoole
4. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 29 2011, 2:20 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2011, 2:20 AM EST
I really want to believe that it was cantharidin. If it was, it gives a window into the medieval pharmacopeia. And it's a reminder of how little things have changed, judging by the dire warnings associated with modern "performance enhancing" meds. 16  out of 17 found this valuable. Do you?    
juliana-angela
juliana-angela
5. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 29 2011, 4:10 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2011, 4:10 AM EST
"I really want to believe that it was cantharidin. If it was, it gives a window into the medieval pharmacopeia. And it's a reminder of how little things have changed, judging by the dire warnings associated with modern "performance enhancing" meds."
If it was (and I think arsenic is more likely),. they would have had to make sure that the dosage wasn't too low. Otherwise, instead of keeling over, the victim would have been leaping around chasing all the women!
3  out of 16 found this valuable. Do you?    

Kittywake09
6. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jan 29 2011, 4:35 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2011, 4:35 AM EST
heehee viagra 3  out of 17 found this valuable. Do you?    

KiellyAndrews
7. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Jun 13 2012, 8:49 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 13 2012, 8:49 AM EDT
Looking more closely into Cantharidine, one of the beetles known for this toxin is the "cardinal beetle" - named for it's red body that looks like cardinal's robes. It not only feeds on other bugs but will eat its own kind as well... sort of like the papacy during the Borgia era. It wouldn't surprise me if the poison used those specific beetles if, for no other reason, the irony. I have looked more closely into when the beetle was named, but have not been able to discover that yet. 24  out of 26 found this valuable. Do you?    

PatrickCourts
8. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Apr 14 2013, 8:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Apr 14 2013, 8:59 AM EDT
"Looking more closely into Cantharidine, one of the beetles known for this toxin is the "cardinal beetle" - named for it's red body that looks like cardinal's robes. It not only feeds on other bugs but will eat its own kind as well... sort of like the papacy during the Borgia era. It wouldn't surprise me if the poison used those specific beetles if, for no other reason, the irony. I have looked more closely into when the beetle was named, but have not been able to discover that yet."
Now THAT is fascinating.
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darkpassenger1
darkpassenger1
9. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Apr 15 2013, 7:32 AM EDT | Post edited: Apr 15 2013, 7:32 AM EDT
I read this same article. It seems like a laborious process but when only the best will do... I also read that it was supposed to have had a "sweet, pleasing taste" so that makes me wonder how accurate this account is as well. Either way it is a fascinating subject and as a student of pharmacy I would love to know the true pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of the Cantarella. 4  out of 4 found this valuable. Do you?    

GyökérSolt
10. RE: Cantarella - The Favorite Poison Of The Borgias
Apr 16 2013, 12:27 PM EDT | Post edited: Apr 16 2013, 12:27 PM EDT
"Now THAT is fascinating."
But I have to kill this nice idea: cantharis and cardinal beetle are totally different species.
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