American evening Theatre play: ,,Phalaris’s Bull”
Theater performance – monodrama
Phalaris’s Bull: Solving the Riddle of the Great Big World ( And our pain becomes beauty)
Written and performed by Steven Friedman
One of the most beautifully presented philosophy lessons to attend is written and delivered by Steven Friedman, with the self-described “Gift of the Mind.” He is a poet, painter, author, teacher, and molecular biologist, but at his core he searches for the answers to the biggest questions of bringing beauty out of pain. The text, delivered warmly and wittily, is part autobiography, part meditation, part instruction and part inspiration with a deep emphasis on aphorisms, which are alternately dense, elemental, challenging and revealing.
As a Harvard-educated molecular biologist, visual artist, and provocative visionary and philosopher, Steven Friedman has answers to life’s big questions. Using personal narrative poetry, art and science he delivers a performance that reflects his prismatic, transformational and deeply comforting vision of the world. Friedman offers a solution to the world’s pain based not only on belief and faith but also on logical rigor—a philosophy that begins with Kierkegaard’s story of an ancient torture device, the bull of Phalaris, which turns the terrible sounds of pain into music.
The Bull of Phalaris or the so-called Bronze Bull was a torture and execution device invented in Ancient Greece. According to the writings of Diodorus Siculus, Perillus of Athens designed and proposed the bronze bull as a weapon that the tyrant Phalaris of Sicily would use to execute criminals. The bull was made entirely of bronze, hollow on the inside with a flap on the side. The bull was in the shape and size of a live bull and had a built-in sound device that turned the screams into the bull’s braying. Convicts were locked in the bull and a fire was lit under it, which heated the metal and the person inside was roasted to death while still alive.
Phalaris ordered a bull to be fashioned in such a way that the smoke coming out of it smelled of perfume. The bull’s head was designed with a complex system of tubes and baffles that ensured the screams were converted into sounds that resembled a raging bull. According to the legend, when the bull was opened, the burned bones of the executed “shone like jewels and bracelets were made from them.”
Peril told Phalaris, “His screams will come through the pipes as the softest, most miserable, most melodious screams.” Horrified by these words, Phalaris ordered this sound system to be tested on Peril himself. When Peril entered he was immediately locked up and a fire was lit under the bull so that Phalaris could hear his screams. Before Peril died, Phalaris opened the door and pulled him out of the bull. Perill believed he would receive a reward for his invention but instead after freeing himself from the bull, Phalaris threw him off the top of the hill, killing him. Phalaris is believed to have himself been executed in the bull when he was deposed by Telemachus, Theron’s ancestor.