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, Silvio Barbarigo and his associates working under Rodrigo Borgia plot to use cantarella to poison their targets. In Assassin's Creed Brotherhood due to the interference of the Roman Assassins, Cesare's army and funds had significantly diminished. Enraged, Cesare confronted Rodrigo, demanding to know what had happened. There, Cesare and Rodrigo argued over the former's insatiable lust for power. Rodrigo commented that he had given Cesare all he had, yet his son was never satisfied.
Cesare demanded that his father give him the Apple of Eden, but Rodrigo refused. At this point, Lucrezia barged in, crying out to her brother that their father was attempting to poison him with the bowl of apples full of cantarella he had left out.
An outraged Cesare responded by charging Rodrigo and shoving the poisoned apple down his throat, suffocating him. Cesare then demanded the Apple's whereabouts from Lucrezia, who confessed under much pressure.
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