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Cantarella was most probably a variation of arsenic or cantharidin powder (made from blister beetles) and alleged by Borgia enemies to have been used by Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia. Many writers dismiss these allegations as slander.
In popular culture
Cantarella, a Japanese manga written and illustrated by You Higuri, is about Cesare Borgia, an Italian aristocrat during the Renaissance. The name of the manga derives from a poison supposedly used by the Borgia family to eliminate their political enemies.
In Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, cantarella is extensively used. First, it is used to kill Doge Giovanni Mocenigo in Assassin's Creed II, as Ezio came too late to save the doge. Then, in Brotherhood, out of jealousy for Lucrezia Borgia, Cesare uses cantarella to kill the lover of Lucrezia, Pietro Rossi, during the Jesus Christ Passion Play. Finally, Rodrigo Borgia manages to poison Cesare with cantarella-laced apples, with Lucrezia arriving too late to warn Cesare. Angered, Cesare shoved the very apple he took a bite of into Rodrigo's mouth, choking him to death.
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