Stupid Ancient History (Stupid History)
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Best-selling humorist Leland Gregory offers a blockbuster collection of more than 200 bizarre, weird, silly, shocking, and downright outrageous true stories about ancient Greek and Roman history.
New York Times best-selling author Leland Gregory is one of Andrews McMeel Publishing’s most successful noncartoon humorists. Silly, shocking, weird, hilariously funny—and outrageously true—the short anecdotes inside his anthologies of human stupidity are culled from print, online, and broadcast media from all over the world. Inside Stupid Ancient History, Gregory chronicles Greek philosophers, Roman conquerors, and historic mythconceptions, including:
— To fight off Roman ships in 300 BC, Carthaginians catapulted live snakes at them.
— The Athenian lawmaker Draco died of suffocation when gifts of cloaks were showered upon him by grateful citizens at an Aegina theater in 620 BC.
— In ancient Rome, long before the advent of the Christian Bible, Roman men swore to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” by placing their right hand on their testicles. It is from this ritual that we derived the term “testimony.”
— Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus burned to the ground in 356 BC. The arsonist was executed; and to make sure his wish for everlasting fame wouldn’t come true, it was ordered that his name be stricken from all records and never mentioned again. But people will talk. Despite all efforts, his name leaked, and Herostratus is remembered as one of the most notorious firebugs in history.
Augustus Germanicus (A.D. 12–41), also known as Gaius but more recognizable as Caligula, was Roman emperor from A.D. 37 to 41. Gaius’s father, Germanicus, a much beloved public figure, was the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius and a greatly admired Roman general. Gaius came from a powerful bloodline, so how did he wind up with the name “Caligula”? Well, Caligula was a nickname that he got as a small boy from soldiers while he accompanied his father on military campaigns. It means “little
Julius Caesar was born by caesarian section and that’s where the procedure gets its name, right? More than likely not. There’s no record of the manner in which Caesar was delivered but it’s highly unlikely that it was through such a drastic surgery. In early times an operation such as this was performed only if the mother had died during childbirth. Bindusara (320–272 B.C.), the second Mauryan Samrat (emperor) of India, is regarded as the first child born by surgery. His mother, Durdhara, wife of
during a heated debate a note was brought from the outside and handed to Caesar. Cato thought that the note contained proof of the Catilinarian conspiracy (Lucius Sergius Catilina was refused the position of consul and then tried to form a revolt against Rome) and demanded that Caesar hand it over so he could read it. When Cato opened the letter he was embarrassed to find that it was basically a love letter to Caesar from Cato’s own sister Servilia. Cato threw it to Caesar, saying, “Take it, thou
derived its name from the Latin adjective rubeus, meaning “red” (because the red mud deposits have colored the water). In early 49 B.C., Julius Caesar led one legion, the Legio XIII Gemina, over the Rubicon, which was the border of another Roman province. This was considered an act of insurrection, making armed conflict inevitable. The Roman Republic was divided into several provinces, and the leader of one wasn’t allowed in another. So by deciding to cross the Rubicon, Caesar knew full well he
around the city. This led to the formation of an organization called the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum in 1853, which aimed to record every known Latin inscription in a collection by the same name. Here are some of the examples they’ve found in Pompeii. (Note: The number after the location in parentheses is the catalog number of the inscription—not the date—in volume 4 of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.) (Bar/brothel of Innulus and Papilio) 3932: “Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up.