In Lotus Eaters, Hades, and Ithaca Bloom thinks of his father's death in 1886 from aconite poisoning. In Circe he mentally reenacts the suicide by imagining himself ingesting a “few pastilles of aconite,” drawing the blinds of the hotel room in Ennis, writing a letter to his son, and taking some soft breaths before asphyxiation.  Pastilles are small lozenges used to deliver doses of medicine. Aconite is a poisonous plant of the buttercup family, but it was used medicinally as an herbal remedy for a wide-range of symptoms including fever, constipation, anxiety, and sciatica. The novel suggests not only that Rudolph deliberately used it to kill himself, but that he may also have inadvertently killed his wife through contact with the substance.

Morgan Lawrence and John Hunt 2014

Tin of Allenbury's Throat Pastilles, produced ca. 1920-1940 by Allen & Hanburys Ltd., a British pharmaceutical firm. These pastilles contain cocaine, like aconite a plant-derived "Poison" meant to be used under medical supervision. Source:

St. Jacob's Oil, a pain-relieving liniment sold in the United States by A. Vogeler & Co., starting ca. 1880. The oil contained turpentine, camphor, ether, alcohol, carbolic acid, capsicum (to warm the skin), chloroform, and aconite (.0132%). Source: