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‘Horrible, most horrible’: Hamlet and forensic medicine
  1. Thomas D Ruder,
  2. Gary M Hatch,
  3. Michael J Thali
  1. Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bern, Buehlstrasse, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Thomas D Ruder, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bern, Buehlstrasse 20, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland; thomas.ruder{at}

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In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the old King is poisoned by his brother, who instills ‘a juice of cursed hebona’ into the King's ear.1 According to the testimony of the King's ghost, the poison rapidly induces fatal systemic coagulation (“it doth posset/And curd … the blood”) and a diffuse dermal reaction, covering the body with a …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.