Reading the history of the Byzantine Empire, it was common for rivals to be blinded to remove them as a threat. It was considered more merciful that killing the rival. Does anyone know what method they used to blind people? My impression is they would do it in a way that wouldn’t cause death or be excessively painful.

According to the Wikipedia entry on Blinding (punishment)

The quotation above is actually a cut-and-paste job from the cited work, page 106 of Jennifer Lawler’s Encyclopedia of the Byzantine Empire (2004).

Why would you think that? Roman Emperors, even Eastern Roman ones, weren’t exactly known for being merciful. Blinding was done as much for the torture aspect as the rival elimination aspect. Look at Basil and the Bulgars. That isn’t merciful, it’s cruel.

You might be right and maybe they didn’t care about the pain. And that is part of why I asked the question.

First I was thinking they didn’t want to kill the rival as that would be just as easy as blinding.

Second I was wondering how they would do it without causing a secondary infection that would lead to death.

Often after the blinding the victim would be sent to live in another part of the kingdom but otherwise be free and able to live the rest of their life in comfortable retirement. Aside from the blinding part it doesn’t seem as if they wanted to make the rival suffer, only knock him out of having any chance of every coming back to make an attempt on regaining power.

I think hot pokers are essentially self-cauterizing.