So I’ve been catching up on a few things that fell by the wayside during the run of “4 Noses.” Yesterday I got a check-up with my doctor, and was telling her a little bit about the show.
"Oh my goodness, that’s so funny because my nine year old is obsessed with this guy who had four noses - Tyco B____… I’ll have to ask her. He lost his nose in a duel or something. Apparently he had gold, silver, brass noses - each for different occasions. She’s been doing all this research and a report for school."
I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this guy! Sure enough I googled ‘Tyco four noses,’ and there he was: Tycho Ottesen Brahe, Danish, 1546 - 1601; "The first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts." (Exactly what I struggle with in the play!)
Apparently, he lost the bridge of his nose in a duel with a third cousin over a mathematical formula. Since neither could prove they were right, the duel was to settle it. Tycho lost his nose. He made up with the cousin a few weeks later, but from then on wore prosthetics attached with paste or glue.
The facts about his death are a little inconclusive. Mercury poisoning seemed likely from all the metal noses. Then there was some suspicion of foul play. But there was also an excruciating kidney incident shortly before he died: Banquet, Prague, no polite way to excuse himself to pee, Uremia.
After Danish Scientists exhumed him from his tomb in Prague and did more tests, (2012) they ruled out murder and mercury. Tycho Brahe died from a burst bladder. Exact. Empirical. Ow.