The Fart That Started a Revolution

Chloe Effron / iStock Collage
Chloe Effron / iStock Collage

For over 20 years, King Apries loomed over Egypt with the confidence of a man who could not be shaken. His rivalry against the Babylonians, which took up much of his time on the throne, had seen him successfully hold off their spreading forces. When his enemies took over Jerusalem, displaced citizens found a new home in Elephantine and other areas under his watch. As of 570 BCE, life was good.

A history-making toot would change all of that.

In that year, Apries received word from Libya: the Greeks of Cyrene (a city-state in North Africa) were storming the land, and his assistance would be appreciated. Apries sent his men into battle, but they were outmatched. The losses were considerable. Families of the slain and surviving mercenaries began to look at Apries with a fresh pair of eyes. Had he considered them expendable?

Apries tried not to concern himself with the unrest, but it soon grew too distracting to ignore. Men began to talk of an uprising. To smother the mutiny, Apries sent one of his best generals, Amasis, to deliver a message: the King was displeased with the lack of loyalty.

Amasis did as he was instructed, traveling to the hub of the movement. Before he could get a word out, an insurgent walked up behind him and placed a helmet on his head. Why couldn’t Amasis be their king?

Amasis, though loyal to Apries, was not above an appeal to his ego. He decided that being their king would suit him just fine and remained in their company. When Apries got word of Amasis’s about-face, he sent another messenger, Patarbemis, to meet Amasis and insist the traitor turn himself in.

Patarbemis met Amasis while the latter idled on horseback and began to scold him on behalf of the real king. A defiant Amasis raised his buttocks from the saddle, farted, and told Patarbemis he could send that back to Apries.

The expulsion of wind was accompanied by a promise: Amasis would go back to Apries, but he'd bring some friends with him. A shocked Patarbemis returned to Sais, where Apries lived in a magnificent palace, and tried to deliver the gastronomic news to his ruler. But when Apries got wind of the fact Patarbemis had returned without Amasis, he ordered the man’s nose and ears hacked off as punishment.

Amasis: He who dealt it. Metropolitan Museum of Art

This would prove to be the beginning of Apries’s end. Patarbemis was a beloved subject in Sais, and civilians who heard of his cruel mistreatment sided with Amasis. When the would-be ruler made good on his promise and met Apries on the battlefield in Momemphis—his rebellious Egyptians against Apries’s Greek soldiers—Apries suffered a resounding defeat. There would be no comeuppance for the man who had dared to pass gas in his general direction. (Some accounts have Apries losing in battle up to three times before being captured.)

Amasis assumed the role of king in late 570 BCE and ruled until approximately 525 BCE. According to Herodotus, Amasis initially showed a measure of respect to Apries, keeping him prisoner rather than executing him, but his bloodthirsty subjects insisted it was offensive to keep him alive. Amasis shrugged and handed over the former ruler to the masses. They strangled and buried him.

Like any ruler, Amasis had dissidents of his own. Some begrudged him his daily ritual of drinking to excess; others complained he had only a common man’s lineage and was unworthy of rule. To illustrate his argument against the latter, Amasis had a washbowl used for vomiting and washing feet broken into pieces, crafted into the image of a god, and placed in a public area where it was to be viewed with reverence. After letting people get a look, Amasis revealed the object of their adoration was previously a puke bucket. It was a fitting metaphor for a man who started an overthrow of Egypt with a flatulent flourish.

Additional Sources:
The Complete Works of Herodotus

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8 Facts About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon
Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon

Longtime Harry Potter fans who feel like first-years at heart may find it hard to believe, but the books have been around for decades. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, which follows Harry as he faces Dementors, investigates the mysterious Sirius Black, and gets through his third year at Hogwarts.

From Rowling’s writing process to how it changed The New York Times Best Sellers list, here are some facts you should know about the wildly popular book.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was J.K. Rowling’s "best writing experience."

In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Rowling described the creation of Prisoner of Azkaban as “the best writing experience I ever had.” This had more to do with where Rowling was at in her professional life than the content of the actual story. By book three, she was successful enough where she didn’t have to worry about finances, but not yet so famous that the she felt the stress of being in the public eye.

2. The Dementors represent depression.

Readers who live with depression may see something familiar in Prisoner of Azkaban’s soul-sucking Dementors. According to the book, “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself ... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Rowling has stated that she based the Dementor’s effects on her own experiences with depression. "[Depression] is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again," she told The Times in 2000. "The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It's a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."

3. Rowling regretted giving Harry the Marauder’s Map.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Marauder’s Map is introduced as a way for Harry to track Sirius Black and learn of the survival of Peter Pettigrew. But this plot device proved problematic for Rowling later on this series. In Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, she wrote, “The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information.” She went on to say that she sometimes wished she had made Harry lose the map for good in the later books.

4. Rowling was excited to introduce Remus Lupin.

One of the aspects Rowling most enjoyed about writing Prisoner of Azkaban was introducing Remus Lupin. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and secret werewolf is one of the author's favorite characters in the series, and as she told Barnes & Noble in 1999, “I was looking forward to writing the third book from the start of the first because that's when Professor Lupin appears.”

5. Crookshanks is based on a real cat.

Harry had Hedwig the owl, Ron had his pet rat Scabbers, and in book three, Hermione got a pet of her own: an intelligent half-Kneazle cat named Crookshanks. J.K. Rowling is allergic to cats, and she admits on her website that she prefers dogs, but she does have fond memories of a cat that roamed the London neighborhood where she worked in the 1980s. When writing Crookshanks, she gave him that cat’s haughty attitude and smushed-face appearance.

6. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book Americans had to wait for.

Harry Potter fans based in America will no doubt remember waiting months after a book’s initial release in England to buy it from their local bookstore. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book with a staggered publication date: Beginning with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the rest of the books in the series were published in both markets on the same date.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban broke sales records.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of its release, making it the fastest-selling British book of all time in 1999. The book has since gone on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide and helped make Harry Potter the bestselling book series ever.

8. It changed The New York Times Best Sellers List.

For part of 1999, the first three Harry Potter books—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone pretty much everywhere besides America), Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban—occupied the top three slots on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It didn’t stay that way for long, though: Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that pushed the paper to create a separate list just for children’s literature, leaving more room on the original list for books aimed at adults. That’s why Harry Potter is missing from the famous bestsellers roundup during the 2000s, despite dominating book sales at this time.

Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke Turned Down the Lead in 50 Shades of Grey

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Though Emilia Clarke is undoubtedly best known for her starring role on Game of Thrones, she has landed some other plum parts over the past several years, including Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, the role of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the lead in Phillip Noyce's upcoming Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. But there's one major role Clarke passed on, and has no regrets about it: Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

The movies, based on E. L. James's erotic book series, trace the sadomasochistic/romantic relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire businessman Christian Grey. Both the books and the movies have garnered a lot of criticism for their graphic nudity and sex scenes. While Clarke is no stranger to appearing nude on film for her role as Daenerys Targaryen, she said that 50 Shades of Grey would have taken her too far out of her comfort zone.

“There is a huge amount of nudity in the film,” the British actress told The Sun of her reasons for not wanting to get involved with the film series. “I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”

Even without 50 Shades of Grey on her resume, Clarke says she has dealt with a lot of negative backlash because of the nudity in Game of Thrones. “I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes,” the 32-year-old star said. “Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.”

When we last left Daenerys, she seemed to be getting serious about Jon Snow—who, unbeknownst to the two of them, is her nephew. We'll see how that unpleasant discovery plays out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

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