READER SUBMITTED CONTENT People used to be creative. And honest. I don’t want to sound like some crotchety 23-year-old naysayer, but it’s true.
People used to be creative. And honest. I don’t want to sound like some crotchety 23-year-old naysayer, but it’s true. Over the last couple thousand years, humans have become ostensibly more humane, though we rarely act more civilly. This is reflected in the execution of our Enemies of the State; whereas now we just imprison piles of dog shit like Noriega for near-life terms, our hatred for them is just as intense as our ancestors’ was for theirs. However, they were honest enough to publicly torture and shame theirs in clever ways, rather than pretending to “rehabilitate” them while foaming at the mouths at the very mention of their name. (See: Crass’ “Mother Earth.”)
Exhibit A: Poking and prodding Saddam Hussein with Q-Tips while wearing latex gloves was a fabulous start, but things kind of fell apart with that lengthy kangaroo court trial where he looked like a dignified and aging English rock star (thank you, Fred Armisen). Not to mention that secret little hanging ceremony where you couldn’t even see his inevitably raging erection (or the shit spray out the back of his fancy suit) while he struggled for air, just like the Kurds he gassed. No, I say there used to be a little more pizzazz accompanying a more honest approach to handling/murdering enemies. Here are my favs:
Remember Crassus? He’s that guy from Spartacus who crucified 6,000 slaves along over 100 miles of road. He was a dick. He was also exorbitantly wealthy and checks in consistently at number five in Forbes’ Wealthiest Historical Figures list. Want to know how he made that money? Before Rome was a city of marble, it was a city of brick. And wood. And flammable everything. And slumlords. This led to rampant tenement fires that affected pretty much everybody living in that shithole city, so it became urgent during the Late Republic to find a way to fix this. Enter the philanthropist Crassus. He fixed up a merry gang of fire-fighting slaves to act as Rome’s first fire brigade, and subsequently put out many, many fires throughout the city quickly and efficiently. However, there was a catch: When he showed up to direct his slaves, he would halt them first, then saunter up to the owner/super of the building and haggle for the flaming building with him. Basically, the landlord could choose between losing his entire property (and tenants) or selling it to Crassus for the modern equivalent of a Coke and a smile, all while he watched his livelihood slowly burn to the ground. This motherfucker acquired so much property and made so much money doing this, he makes Dick Cheney look like Ty Pennington.
Pissed yet? Get ready to feel better. This is how he died: In the summer of 53 BCE, He marched off towards a region of the Middle East known as Parthia, where a seemingly unconquerable (and RICH) people lived. There wasn’t much reason to go to war with them, other than to hold a Triumph (which Crassus never held) or to become even wealthier. Long story short, his march was a disaster and at a place named Carrhea, his army was annihilated and he was taken hostage. He was eventually taken to the king, who told him that since he loved gold so much, he could have some of the king’s own. He proceeded to pour molten gold down Crassus’ throat. Then, being the lovers of Greek theater that they were, the Parthians celebrated with a Euripides’ classic, “The Bacchae,” which culminates in the antagonist’s mother ripping his head off, then shrieking on stage while holding it. They used Crassus’ head as the prop.
God, I hate this guy. As big a hero to France as Charles DeGaul, he made Caesar’s taking of Gaul beyond miserable and was the last major Gallic Chieftain to resist Rome. Who gives a shit. Want to know what would happen when Rome moved in? You got an aqueduct, sanitation, protection, money, religious tolerance and a prefect to run your town who probably didn’t want to rape your daughter as much as the last mayor. Boo hoo, what a wretched life. Anyway, this fucking clown had something against all that, so he fought and fought until, like any good Frenchman, he gave up. He surrendered to Rome as a pathetic, naked shell of a man in front of thousands of leering soldiers. For the thousands of lost lives he was responsible for and for his country that was then treated much more harshly than had it surrendered (Caesar returned to Rome with a MILLION slaves), his karmic retribution was suffering in a dungeon in Rome for several years while Caesar wrangled for a Triumph. Tormented by hunger and the smell of his own piss and shit, he was finally taken out, paraded as a trophy, then publicly strangulated, naked, in front of what was conceivably a million-plus crowd.
Spartans are cool to study until you learn that Adolph Hitler considered them the first socialist society and based his program of eugenics on theirs. They enslaved an entire people (called Helots) who outnumbered Spartan citizens 15-to-1 and also hated personal wealth to the extent that they made Spartan monetary denominations these immense, iron ingots that were so inconvenient to transport, nobody bothered possessing or using them at all. So when Pausanias, the Spartan general who repelled the last wave of Persians before Xerxes, was offered gold, camels, blow-jobs and probably loads of boys as the spoils of war, it’s understandable that he didn’t want to go back to eating turnips and wiping his ass with single-ply TP. Neither would I.
So, while he was on his cleanup campaign through Northern Greece, word got back to Sparta that he was dressing like a faggy Persian, eating faggy Persian food and basically just acting like a Persian faggot in general. And if you think a bunch of proto-NAMBLA members would be down with such faggotry, BOY are you wrong. They recalled his ass to Sparta right quick, in order to draw evidence against him from his slaves and soldiers, but nothing immediately came together. He was released, only to be informed shortly thereafter of a plot to have him arrested once again –- this time with more unsavory results for ol’ Pausanias. He ran to a temple a la Quasi Modo to claim no-touchsies, which the hyper-religious Spartans had no choice but to honor. Killing a man in a temple or even dragging him out forcefully would pollute the whole sacred area, so they did the next best thing: They walled it up and posted sentries outside of it, then waited for him to starve to death. When he appeared to be on his last few breaths, his Spartan peers pulled his near-lifeless body to the street and watched him die right then and there. Teaches him not to wear jazzy gear.
Anyway, that’s just a few of the ancient deaths that wowed me. They seem pretty brutal, but so does an English tabloid running Myra Hindley stories in order to rile up the hate of a country for a few ad bucks. I personally prefer a cathartic public execution to a rabid and impetuous public. Call me crazy.
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