Eccentrics

How a Fart Started a Revolution

Possibly you have found yourself hastily vacating a room because of someone’s gaseous emissions. Maybe your plans to shop in a certain aisle of a store changed after catching a whiff of the unpleasant aroma another shopper left behind. Some have told dramatic stories of forsaking hopes of romance at the sound of a rude toot from a date.

In short, farts can change one’s destiny. As we previously reported, one fart resulted in the death of 10,000 people. Another fateful fart did more than peel the paint; it toppled a throne.

Pharaoh Apries (also known by the Egyptian name Wahibre Haaibre) came to the throne in 589 BC. He ruled as the Big Cheese for nearly 20 years over a mighty empire. Most of his reign found him preoccupied with threats by the Babylonians, but he successfully held his rivals at bay. His place in history as a great leader seemed assured.

His legacy and throne faced their biggest threat in 570 BC. Greeks from the North African city-state of Cyrene launched an attack on Libya. Apries sent Egyptian soldiers to help repel the attack. Despite their best efforts, the Egyptians suffered a terrible defeat. For the first time in his reign, Apries appeared vulnerable.

Foul-smelling rumors of discontent swirled, and it wasn’t long before Apries started hearing whispers of rebellion. The pharaoh knew he must send a strong message that he was firmly in control of the ship of state. The best emissary to carry this message was none other than his best general, Amasis.

Apries ordered Amasis to go immediately to the place that seemed to be the focal point of the growing unrest. The general went as ordered and delivered the message that the Pharoah was not amused by the lack of respect. As he was delivering the message, however, one of the insurgents approached the general from behind and “crowned” him with a helmet. The insurgent declared that Amasis would be a much better king. Would the general consider taking the job?

Amasis was loyal to the Pharoah and refused the invitation. That’s not to say that he wasn’t a wee bit flattered by the attention. He couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to be the leader of a whole nation. In short, the political bug of ambition had bitten him.

The more he thought about it, the more the idea appealed to him. Apries soon got word that his favorite general wasn’t acting quite as loyally as the king would have hoped. He dispatched a court official, Patarbemis, to remind Amasis of his proper station. Patarbemis told the general to get his head out of the clouds and to turn himself in.

Patarbemis caught up with Amasis while the general was on horseback. The messenger sternly delivered Apries’ command, but Amasis didn’t react the way the emissary expected. Rather than cower before the fierce words of the pharaoh, Amasis lifted his rear end off the saddle and sounded a loud, defiant fart. Amasis said that was the response Patarbemis could take back to his king.

Lest Patarbemis think that Amasis’ response was nothing more than hot air, he told him to deliver an additional message. Amasis would indeed pay Apries a visit, but he wouldn’t be coming by himself. In other words, a new wind was about to fill the sails of the ship of state.

Patarbemis returned to Apries to deliver the digestional discourse. When the pharaoh got wind of Amasis’ threats, he was not at all pleased. Like the king who would later destroy his empire by his actions, Apries took out his frustration on the messenger. He ordered his servants to cut off Patarbemis’ nose and ears.

Considering that Patarbemis unwillingly found himself in the center of a fart-generated storm of discontent, there could have been worse things than losing his nose.

The messenger’s punishment did nothing to quell the growing discontent among Apries’ subjects. Patarbemis was a well-liked figure. When his supporters learned of the cruel punishment, they quickly lent their support to Amasis. When the general met the king’s soldiers on the battlefield at Momemphis, the resultant slaughter couldn’t have been worse if it had been fought with gas warfare.

With Apries and his troops thoroughly defeated, Amasis proclaimed himself king. His flatulent behind sat on the throne from late 570 BC until approximately 525 BC.

The historian Herodotus recorded Amasis’ initial posture of mercy toward his predecessor. Forgoing the customary practice of killing his enemy, Amasis held Apries as a prisoner. The former king had so sullied his reputation, however, that his continued existence was like a stench in the nostrils of his enemies. Amasis’ subjects increasingly called for harsher punishment. The new king finally relented and handed his predecessor over to the masses. Apries met his end by violent strangulation.

Since Apries lost his crown after receiving a message through a fart, it was probably inevitable that his last moments would be spent desperately gasping for air.

As for Amasis, his savoir-faire did not improve as a result of his elevated social status. When dissidents complained that he was a commoner, unworthy of a divinely-conferred throne, the king decided to have a little fun. He took a washbowl that was used by sick people when they had to vomit. He had it broken into pieces and reformed into an idol. The king put the object on public view for adoration. Only after his detractors — the supposed experts on everything — bowed and venerated the idol did the king let them know that they were worshipping a vomit basin.

Before today, you probably never heard of King Amasis. From now on, you will never forget that he began his reign with a fart and cemented it with a puke bucket.


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