History is not always about wars fought, territory added and plagues prevailed. It is not particularly an uninteresting subject that we assume in our early days, but rather, it is truly the most interesting of subjects that make us ascertain where we were once and where we have arrived. Some aspects of it make us wonder, some lift our spirit, while some break our soul.
This list, however, is about seven historical facts that are outright hilarious despite of their brutality, despair and deaths.
1. The only surgery with 300% mortality rate.
Before anesthesia became common, speed was very important during surgeries so as to minimize pain and improve the chances of survival of the patients. In a run against time, Scottish surgeon Robert Liston in the year 1847 performed a surgery in just 25 seconds. But what he didn’t realise was that while carrying out the amputation at the speed of light, he also had chopped off the fingers of his assistant. Both the patient and his assistant died of infection. One spectator whose coat was slashed while switching instruments died of shock assuming he was stabbed. This is perhaps the only recorded surgery in the history where the mortality rate was 300%.
2. When Julius Caesar kept his joke (ahem, promise).
Prior to becoming the great Roman emperor, Julius Caesar was a lawyer and during one of those years of his life, he was kidnapped by a bunch of pirates while on a business trip. The pirates wanted ransom and when Caesar found out the amount they were asking for his freedom, he was offended by their low demand and asked them to make it more than double. During his 38 days of captivity, he wrote poetry and speeches and demanded that the pirates should listen to them. If they praised him, he would call them illiterate savages and even ordered them to remain quiet while he would sleep. Besides all these annoyances, he joked that if he was released, he would come back and would crucify them all. When he was freed finally, he returned with an armed fleet, captured the pirates and actually crucified them.
3. The army that came back with more soldiers from war than it had gone.
Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest independent country in the world and one of the very few countries which presently doesn’t maintain a military. Liechtenstein has a long history of maintaining a policy of neutrality and the last time it was engaged in a military exercise was in the year 1866 when the Austro-Prussian War was underway. Liechtenstein which had close political ties with Austria sent an army of 80 men in support of Austria. Later, they went back home with 81 men, with no causalities and one Italian friend they made during the war who simply decided to join them to Liechtenstein.
4. The piracy for hats.
In the year 1717, notorious pirate Benjamin Hornigold who rose from a low-profile looter to the leader of around 350 strong men ready to wreck havoc on any ship, attacked a merchant ship and easily overpowered the crew. The crew, fearing their lives, pleaded for mercy. As they begged, Hornigold’s crew explained to the terrified crew of the merchant ship that they didn’t intend to kill them and rather the reason for their attacking the ship was to get hats because the previous night the pirate crew had gotten drunk and threw all their hats into the sea. The pirates took the hats of the merchant ship crew and let them go.
5. Benjamin Franklin was way too funny to write the ‘Declaration of Independence’.
Benjamin Franklin was one of the greatest persons to have ever lived. He was an author, politician, inventor, scientist, freemason and much more. He also was a humorist. In fact, he was so good in it that he would often include subtle jokes in his serious papers and many people would not even spot them until the damage was done. It was for this reason when the decision that who should be writing the ‘Declaration of Independence’ was to be taken, Thomas Jefferson was chosen instead of superior and brilliant Benjamin Franklin because it was feared that Franklin would put some jokes in it and by the time they could be detected, it would be too late.
6. Chrysippus, who died from laughing at his own joke.
Second century BCE Greek philosopher Chrysippus was an incredible prolific writer who composed more than 700 works and was head of Stoic School of Philosophy with immense interest in logic and ethics. Such was his prowess that it is said if Chrysippus hadn’t lived, there would be no Stoa. He also was a master of dialectic and a skilled runner. But more than his talents, skills or anything, he is remembered for his death.
Chrysippus had a slight figure and was never the life of a party, though he would get drunk much and laugh his heart out. Laughter, in the end, played a key role in his death.
Once while returning from a party after getting drunk, he saw a donkey eating fig which he found quite funny. He instantly instructed the old woman that lived with him to give the donkey some unmixed wine after it was done with the fig. Saying so, and possibly assuming he said the most hilarious joke that ever being uttered, he broke into such an unearthly laughter that he died, surviving by an old woman and a drinking ass.
7. The ground breaking discovery (that wasn’t).
After a volcanic eruption in November 1963, a new island was formed off the south coast of Iceland. It was named Surtsey and is one of the newest islands in the world. Soon after its formation, the island was sealed and no one, besides a handful of scientists, is allowed to land on the island. The reason is to observe the progress of life on the island on its own.
In the summer of 1969, the researchers were exhilarated when they discovered for the first time a plant growing out of the lava. They were but unable to identify the 15 cm mysterious plant and sent for another scientist to come and see that. Ágúst Bjarnason reached the spot as soon as possible and was stunned to see the plant that appeared like a potato plant. He bent down, rolled two rocks aside from the roots of the plant and discovered a soft pile of soil from which it had grown. When he poked it, everything became as clear as a dawn. The pile was nothing but human faeces. Someone had done his/her business there, hid it with rocks and went away. It was a tomato plant grown out from human waste and wasn’t anything to celebrate.