3 Snake pit


Snake pit

Snake pits were a historical European means of imposing capital punishment. Convicts were cast into a deep pit containing venomous snakes, such as vipers. They died from snake venom poisoning as the irritated snakes attacked them. An example of execution by this method is that of the Viking warlord Ragnar Lodbrok in 865, after his army was defeated in battle by King Aelle II of Northumbria.

An older legend recorded in in "Atlakviða" and "Oddrúnargrátr" tells that Attila the Hun murdered Gunnarr, the King of Burgundy, in a snake pit.

A similar penalty appeared in ancient China during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907-960). The southern Han, one of the states, imposed a penalty in which a prisoner was thrown into a pool of water containing hundreds of venomous snakes. Soon the prisoner was killed by thousands of snake bites.

Other meanings

The Snake Pit is a 1948 film which tells the story of a woman who finds herself in an insane asylum and cannot remember how she got there. In common metaphorical usage, a "snake pit" can mean any institution (such as a school, prison, hospital, or nursing home) or organization led in an inept or inhumane way.

Naval Usage

The snake pit or AMR1 hold is a location in the Forward compartment lower level (fc4p)that contains the camsewage pump and other pumps and auxiliary tanks. It is referred to as the snake pit due to the multiple pipes that snake through it.

Popular Culture

Punishment using a snake pit is featured in the Film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), in which Indiana Jones is trapped when he tries to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. Another character, Marion, is then cast into the snake pit with him as punishment. Both make it out alive.

A similar method of execution was depicted in the film The Naked Prey (1966) after a group of elephant hunters offend a local African tribe who, in response, subject them various methods of cruel and torturous executions. One of the hunters is restrained to the ground with his head exposed to a cobra encircled with fire to provoke the snake.

Professional wrestler Jake "The Snake" Roberts had an interview segment on WWF TV shows called "The Snake Pit."

Slash, former lead guitarist of rock band Guns N' Roses, formed a band called Slash's Snakepit.

A form of Snake pit appears in Deltora Quest in which the hero, Lief, had to plunge into the pit in order to destroy an evil relic, the Sister of the North. The snakes did not harm him because the Ruby he had repelled snakes but the villain who pursued Lief was not so fortunate.

In the 1970's the Rock Creek Lodge of Clinton, Montana (home of the Testicle Festival and site of filming part of A River Runs Through It on the Rock Creek) was called the Snake Pit because of multiple pet snakes the owner had on display for viewing in a back room area of the lodge. There is now an annual music festival and motorcycle rally at the lodge drawing artists, music enthusiasts, and riders from all over the northwest under the name of the the sNaKe PiT Music and Motorcycle Connection.

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • snake pit — snake′ pit or snake′pit n. 1) a mental hospital marked by squalor and inhumane or indifferent care for the patients 2) an intensely chaotic or disagreeable place or situation • Etymology: after a novel with the same title (1946) by Mary Jane Ward …   From formal English to slang

  • snake pit — n. 1. a pit where snakes are kept ☆ 2. Informal a place of horror and confusion, as a crowded mental hospital where patients are improperly cared for …   English World dictionary

  • snake-pit — snakeˈ pit noun (figurative) 1. A mental hospital 2. A place, or circumstances, characterized by disordered emotions and relationships • • • Main Entry: ↑snake …   Useful english dictionary

  • snake pit — noun 1. pejorative terms for an insane asylum • Syn: ↑Bedlam, ↑booby hatch, ↑crazy house, ↑cuckoo s nest, ↑funny farm, ↑funny house, ↑loony bin, ↑madhouse, ↑nut ho …   Useful english dictionary

  • snake pit —    a mental hospital    Probably from one of the common delusions of the mentally ill, but also a place where the sane hope not to find themselves:     The old man was always threatening to stash her away in a snake pit. (Macdonald, 1971)    The… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • snake pit — /ˈsneɪk pɪt/ (say snayk pit) noun 1. a pit containing venomous snakes, especially as used as a means of torture or execution. 2. Military Colloquial a sergeant s mess. Also, snake pen …   Australian English dictionary

  • snake pit — noun Date: 1946 1. a hospital for mental diseases 2. a place or state of chaotic disorder and distress …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • snake pit — Informal. 1. a mental hospital marked by squalor and inhumane or indifferent care for the patients. 2. an intensely chaotic or disagreeable place or situation. Also, snakepit. [1945 50] * * * …   Universalium

  • snake pit — Synonyms and related words: Chinese puzzle, Gordian knot, Rube Goldberg contraption, can of worms, complex, jungle, knot, labyrinth, maze, meander, mesh, mess, perplex, ravel, snafu, snarl, tangle, tangled skein, webwork, wheels within wheels,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • snake pit — (nickname for) insane asylum known for its harsh and inhumane treatment of its patients; place known for its terrible human relations, unpleasant place to be …   English contemporary dictionary

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