History Podcasts

The Disturbing Truth Behind a Sardonic Grin

The Disturbing Truth Behind a Sardonic Grin

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Creepy and more than a little uncomfortable to behold, one usually thinks of DC Comics' Joker when hearing the phrase "sardonic grin." A "smile" that pulls up the corners of the mouth in a way that paints the image of an invisible coat-hanger shoved between the teeth, the sardonic grin is essentially what stereotypical horror movie serial killers are made of. Yet the awkward and disturbing smile has a much more interesting tale behind it. While the phrase "sardonic grin" stems from the pre-Classical Odyssey of Homer, the influence on this term seems to have a long, bawdy history in the world of the ancient Mediterranean.

Many people think of this type of ‘smile’ when they hear “sardonic grin.”

The Deadly Plant Behind a Sardonic Grin

The sardonic grin dates back to the ancient world—as most things with intriguing backgrounds appear to do. Hemlock, a naturally occurring herb usually associated with the forced suicide of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, plays a prominent role in the history of the creepy, serial killer grin. According to modern authors (such as Mauro Ballero) and ancient writers (such as Plato), a particular strand of the poisonous herb called "water-dropwort" grows throughout the Mediterranean, most commonly localized on the island of Sardinia. One might already see where this article is leading…

  • The eerie masks that preserve history and breathe life into the dead
  • Secret Stash of Lethal Poisons Hidden in 17th Century Book. Was This Really an Assassin's Cabinet?
  • Be Wary of the Wendigo: A Terrifying Beast of Native American Legend with an Insatiable Hunger to Devour Mankind

As a form of the poison was used in the death of Socrates, it is highly evident that the deadly use of the plant was known about even before its role in his death. It is from the location of the hemlock herb—Sardinia—that the eventual idiom "sardonic grin" stems.

‘The Death of Socrates’ (1787) by Jacques-Louis David.

So what was the first instance in which the deadly hemlock was used? And how does it relate to the creepy grin? While the first answer is unknown, it has been discovered through archaeological research that hemlock has a long use in the toolbox of assassins and hired killers.

One drop of the poisonous hemlock water-dropwort was enough to completely incapacitate the target—the victim's muscles would grow taut, making it impossible to move, and the unusually uncomfortable smile would spread across the victim's face. Because of the "frozen" musculature, the face would remain like that. Meanwhile, the assassin would complete his or her murderous job.

Water Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata). ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

An Illusion of Gratitude During “Mercy Killings”

The poisonous hemlock was also used for other, less sadistic purposes, though in many ways it was still highly immoral. Hemlock was employed by the Phoenicians of ancient Sardinia as a way to forcibly "euthanize" the elderly. Interpret that as you will.

Most often, the herb was dropped in the drink of an elderly individual, and then when the effects of the poison took over, the person would be killed through varying methods—the most commonly reported from ancient records are deadly beatings, boulders to the head, etc. All the while, the uncomfortable grin likely sent the illusion of gratitude to the euthanizers.

While the extent to which hemlock was employed for the purposes of "easing" the deaths of the elderly is recorded, the opinion of the elders is left for debate. The writers of the records were younger, so even the transcripts that remain, which might dictate the views of their elders, are likely tainted.

Did the elderly agree to this poisonous form of " mercy killing "? Could it even be called a "mercy killing" if these instances were, in fact, sneak attacks? Did it begin as a way by which younger family members could gain control of lands and money? And finally, if the tradition was widespread in Sardinia, was it a practice that was just accepted without argument by the populace as each individual aged?

Mask showing a possible sardonic grin. (Carole Raddato/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

One could not necessarily be "accidentally" poisoned. Although hemlock has a similar appearance to parsnip, an herb often used in cooking, hemlock is known for being very bitter—more so than a parsnip. Both the leaves and the root of hemlock have a terrible tang (though the latter is slightly less harsh) and, as both parts are also poisonous, it is unlikely that the elders were caught off guard by the correlation between drinking their beverage and their suddenly incapacitated limbs.

  • Poison: The Good, the Bad and the Deadly
  • No Gossiping, Gluttony, Lying, or Eavesdropping! European Metal Masks Would Shame You into Good Behavior
  • Socrates: The Father of Western Philosophy

Executing Law-breakers

A similar practice appears not only on Sardinia but throughout ancient Greece as well, this time the plant was used as a way to execute convicted law-breakers . Socrates, though his "wrongness" is still highly debated, is among those prime examples.

In these particular cases, the distribution of hemlock is considered a form of forced suicide, in which the lawbreaker knowingly drank poison with full awareness as to what would result. As seen with Socrates, hemlock is not only a way in which the body can be incapacitated so the victim can be killed; records of its use have also indicated the herb itself can be a highly lethal poison depending on the amount distributed. Such was the case—as far as it is currently known—with Socrates’ death. Today, on the other hand, hemlock is sometimes incorporated into certain medicines in controlled dosages.

The Legacy of the Sardonic Grin

A risus sardonicus , grimacing smile, also appears in some cases of tetanus or strychnine poisoning, so hemlock poisoning is less likely to be associated with the term sardonic grin these days. However, it is interesting to consider that the term has lasted as a vernacular saying, with different situations linked to it, since the 8th century BC.

In the present, a "sardonic grin" has become a term most often used to describe a grimace—a smile that never reaches the eyes, and which gives the appearance of a "clothes-hanger smile". It looks forced, and painful, and the sardonic grin is also uncomfortable to behold. The term also remains a commonly used metaphor in literary circles.

A scary-looking grin. ( CC0)

Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic

“Sardonic” and “sarcastic” are two words which are very similar in meaning and used almost in the same manner, but their origin, their actual meaning, and their usages are different from each other. They are so close that they are often confused as being interchangeable.

“Sarcastic” refers to a remark which is bitter, derisive, contemptuous, sharp, and a taunt meant to hurt someone. It is a remark which is heavily laced with irony. Though irony and sarcasm are not the same thing, yet the sarcastic remarks have irony involved. That is, the meaning of what is being said is opposite of what it is intended to mean. It refers to the intention of someone bullying or ridiculing someone by saying something hurtful, and its main feature is inversion. For example, The joke was so funny that people decided to keep a straight face.

The word originated from the Greek word “sarkasmos” which meant “to sneer” or literally “tearing of flesh.” None of the meanings referred to anything pleasant. They all referred to unpleasantness caused to another by someone. It was recorded for the first time in 1579 in the English language in “The Shepheardes Calendar.”

Sarcastic remarks or sarcasm can be used directly or indirectly to show contempt for someone. For example, “You couldn’t add two plus two if you had the whole class helping you.” It can be used indirectly too, for example, “What a mathematician you have become!” It is mainly expressed by vocal modulations.

Sardonic remarks refer to mockery, cynicism, derision, and scorn. One of the main features of this word is it is sometimes considered humor in the times of adversity. For example, The food prisoners get is so good that they hardly chew it. It involves very bitter feelings said with disdain. Another thing about a sardonic remark is it might be targeted at your own self. For example, I am so good at telling jokes that people cry when they hear them. It also expresses arrogance and an attitude which indicates superiority.

It has originated from the Greek word “sardonios” meaning “bitter or scornful smiles or laughter.” It is often considered humor in the face of adversity. This Greek word originated from the story behind the Sardinian plant found in Sardinia which when ingested resulted in death. Just before death the face convulsed into an expression resembling a grin or laughter.
It first made its appearance in its root form in Homer. Odysseus, sardonically smiling, when he is attacked by one of the suitors of his wife.

It is used to express cynicism, derision, and skeptical humor by writing, commenting, or a particular gesture. It is used to hurt someone’s feelings. Humor and irony are involved but mainly it is humor during adversity.

1.Sarcastic remarks and sardonic remarks have similar but different meanings.
2.The main feature of sarcasm is that it is laced with irony. Sardonic remarks are humor in the face of adversity.
3.One can apologize for a sarcastic remark to pacify someone, but sardonic remarks are often to oneself and, thus, cannot be apologized for.

Panforte, Satura, Stollen: Middle Eastern Origins of Fruitcake

But the fruitcake (also called fruit cake or fruit bread) that we know best comes from the Middle Ages when dried fruit and spices became more widely available and Western European chefs started to make bread with fruit in it. That soon led to a variety of fruitcakes. In the 13th century, Italians created panforte (literally meaning “strong bread”), a dense sweet and spicy mixture that originated in Siena. German stollen – a tapered bread including candied fruit, nuts, and marzipan, and coated with melted butter and sugar – has been a Dresden favorite since the 1400s.

The next big advancement for fruitcake came in the 16th century, as Europeans delighted their taste buds with sugar from the Caribbean. This new addition in the kitchen allowed people to make candied fruit. The 18 th -century French epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savari believed that this process preserved fruit “long after the period fixed by Nature for their duration.” Nevertheless, housewives of the time would have found that steeping cherries, plums, pears, and figs, as well as imported oranges, lemons, citrons, and limes in sugar syrup not only increased the sweetness, but that preservation was a useful tool in the kitchen.

Traditional Christmas stollen fruitcake. ( nblxer / Adobe Stock)

Barack Obama knows the truth about space aliens, government UFO files

The truth is out there — but former President Barack Obama’s lips are sealed.

The 44th commander-in-chief confirmed during a Monday interview with “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert that he sought classified information on extraterrestrials during his time in the Oval Office, but refused to divulge what he learned.

“Certainly asked about it,” said Obama when Colbert brought up UFOs during a wide-ranging interview to promote “A Promised Land,” Obama’s new memoir.

“And?” pressed the late-night CBS funnyman.

“Can’t tell you,” replied Obama, with an impish grin. “Sorry.”

Colbert took that non-answer as all the confirmation he needed that we are not alone.

Barack Obama Getty Images

“All right, I’ll take that as a ‘yes,'” he cracked. “Because if there were none, you’d say there was none. You just played your hand. I thought you were a poker player. You just 100 percent showed your river card.”

Obama, playing into the non-answer answer, did nothing to discourage Colbert’s conclusion.

“Feel free to think that,” the former president said.

In between chuckles, both men reflected on the idea that an alleged government cover-up of alien life was once regarded as the biggest conspiracy theory going.

“It used to be that UFOs and Roswell was the biggest conspiracy. And now that seems so tame, the idea that the government might have an alien spaceship,” opined Obama.

Zinged Colbert, “Now the biggest conspiracy is [that] people in Michigan vote.”

Powerful history

In a small gallery near the Gilcrease Museum's front entrance, the video installation is flanked by an old key in a small frame, an artifact from the massacre that was from one of the hotels that was destroyed in the attacks on Greenwood, and carefully labeled jars of soil from the Equal Justice Initiative and Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition's &ldquoIn Remembrance: Lynching In America: The Tulsa Community Remembrance Project."

Each jar of dirt was collected from sites across Tulsa where known lynchings of Black people occurred, serving as a memorial to the victims "who were massacred at the hands of white supremacy, anti-Black racism, and racial terror violence," Tiffany Crutcher said.

"You'll also see a booklet with some of their obituaries and some information about them. What people really don't understand is that a lot of the victims were dumped into mass graves. They were dumped into the Arkansas River, no documentation, left to be forgotten, erased from the history books," she said. "They were forced into silence. They were afraid to tell their stories, because they said if you said anything you would be next. Our community, our families, our ancestors, the survivors dealt with internalized grief. And they held it in for so long. They were afraid to speak."

Jack and Jill Full Lyrics

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up got Jack, and home did trot
As fast as he could caper
He went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

When Jill came in
How she did grin
To see Jack’s paper plaster
Mother vexed
Did whip her next
For causing Jack’s disaster.

Got it? Now, let’s look at the possible inspirations for this text.

5. Danielle Colby Works As A Burlesque Dancer

Not everyone knows that American Pickers fan favorite Danielle Colby has an interesting side gig: working as a burlesque dancer. When the cameras stop rolling and the evening arrives, Danielle takes the stage at a local nightclub and becomes &ldquoDannie Diesel&rdquo, where people get to see a lot more of her than TV viewers do.

Twitter/Danielle Colby

&ldquoThe interesting thing is I grew up a Jehovah&rsquos Witness and I had a very, very strict upbringing,&rdquo Danielle recalled about her journey into burlesque dancing. &ldquoSo burlesque wasn&rsquot something that was really around for me. I couldn&rsquot be around it. It was new and taboo.&rdquo However, she went on to say that her new hobby has helped her become more comfortable in her own skin.

The Joker story probably goes back further than you think

Here's what everyone can agree on: the Joker was a co-creation of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the same guys who came up with Batman, along with their new hire, artist Jerry Robinson. Robinson claimed to have come up with the idea first, Finger said it was Kane's idea, and Kane (by many accounts) never blanched at the opportunity to take credit for a popular creation. Among the three of them, multiple recountings of the inspiration behind the Joker came up, over the years, with two details consistently in the mix: a playing card, and Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs.

More specifically, it was the 1928 silent film adaptation of The Man Who Laughs that kickstarted the creative process. In it, actor Conrad Veidt plays Gwynplaine, a freak show performer who was disfigured during childhood, his face permanently fixed in a paralyzed grin. By combining the character's haunting countenance with the features of a Joker card, some combination of ingenuity from Kane, Finger, and Robinson brought Batman's greatest foe to life.

This means two things. Firstly, since The Man Who Laughs was based on a novel published in 1869, the origins of the Joker can be traced back over 150 years, giving the character ample opportunities to dance with or without the devil in the pale moonlight. Secondly, the implication is there: Victor Hugo books are a goldmine of potential Batman villains. With any luck, Gotham's Dark Knight will be going toe-to-toe with Quasimodo or throwing batarangs at Cosette from Les Miserables in no time.

He's the last person The Pioneer Woman expected to marry

Ladd Drummond is a bona fide cowboy — this isn't some made-for-TV act the pair cooked up to help make the Pioneer Woman more successful. Nope, not even close. He grew up working on his family's ranch in Oklahoma, cutting his teeth starting at a young age and learning the ins and outs of cattle ranching.

Ree Drummond, on the other hand, left the Midwest to explore Los Angeles, attending college at the University of California Los Angeles. Her dad made a good living as an orthopedic surgeon, which meant Ree Drummond and her three siblings could spend their time at the country club and taking ballet lessons (via The New Yorker). In other words, the two could not have been more different in their upbringings.

Even so, love has a funny way of striking you when you least expect it. Ree Drummond never anticipated marrying a cowboy, but that's what sparked her wildly successful brand the Pioneer Woman. In fact, her nickname started as somewhat of a joke when friends realized she was planning on "roughing it" in the country with a rancher for the rest of her life — but it just stuck. And she's likely very glad it did.

"I was literally THE last person anyone ever pictured moving to the country," she said in a blog post. "When I announced my engagement to a cowboy, my childhood friends couldn't believe it."


Teke-Teke was a schoolgirl who tripped on some train tracks at a critical moment. She was cut in half by the oncoming locomotive. Now, Teke-Teke is a vengeful spirit who crawls around on her hands and elbows, the dragging sound of her torso along the ground making the teke-teke sound which gives her the name. Teke-Teke wanders around at night, slicing her victims in half with a scythe to mimic her own disfigurement. She can also hide in places like cars and windows, where half a body would typically be seen, and once her victim comes close enough, she surprises them and reveals herself. You can only escape Teke-Teke if you can outrun her, but watch out – she’s extremely fast.


  1. Akinozilkree

    I advise you to go to the site with a huge amount of information on the topic that interests you. There you will certainly find everything.

  2. Keefe

    Straight into the goal

  3. Devry

    I apologize, but in my opinion you admit the mistake. I can prove it. Write to me in PM.

  4. Rio

    I agree, useful message

Write a message