Accomplishments and Records

What Was the Deadliest Fart in History?

Yes, we’re sure you have horror stories about an obnoxious and flatulent brother who habitually lets one rip as soon as the family is packed into the car. You might have experienced something akin to Dante’s journey through Hell because of the lactose-intolerant kid who sat next to you in the class immediately after lunch. Perchance you were once trapped in an elevator with a person whose sulfurous emissions threatened to scar the lining of your lungs.

As bad as your worst experience at the hands of someone’s gassy expulsions, we’re confident that it doesn’t hold a candle to the deadliest fart in history.

One might think that farts play an almost-insignificant role in history. On the contrary, the historical record is replete with twists and turns as dramatic as the path a fart follows through the large intestine. During the reign of Elizabeth I, for example, the Earl of Oxford was bowing to the queen when an unexpected rude sound barked from his backside. He was so mortified that he went into hiding for seven years.

Some 2,000 years earlier, a farting incident brought the untimely end of a king’s reign. But that’s another story that you can read here.

As bad as those experiences were, nothing compares to what took place in Jerusalem in A.D. 44. It was shortly after the death of King Herod Agrippa. Political, societal, and religious tensions were at their peak as the multitudes gathered in the holy city to celebrate Passover.

Roman soldiers were stationed throughout the city to help maintain order. For reasons never fully articulated, one of the soldiers who was stationed at the temple decided to voice his disapproval of the crowds by turning around, exposing his bare buttocks, and releasing a long, loud fart.

As one would expect, such a profane act amid a sacred observance sparked indignation. When coupled with the already-heightened tensions and the large crowds, the result of the fart was nothing short of explosive.

The eminent historian Flavius Josephus recorded the infamous incident:

“One of the soldiers pulled back his garment and cowering down after an indecent manner turned his ‘breech’ to the Jews and spoke such words as you might expect upon such a posture.

At this, the whole multitude had indignation and made a clamor to Cumanus that he would punish the soldier. The rasher part of the youth fell to fighting, and caught up stones, and threw them at the soldiers.

Cumanus was afraid the people would make an assault upon him and sent to call for more armed men, who, when they came in great numbers into the cloisters, the Jews were in very great consternation.

And being beaten out of the temple, they ran into the city; and the violence with which they crowded to get out was so great, that they trod upon each other, and squeezed one another, till ten thousand of them were killed in so much that this feast became the cause of mourning to the whole nation. Every family lamented their own relations.”

In short, that unnamed soldier’s fart caused 10,000 people to lose their lives.

Not very silent, but certainly deadly.


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