Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A bum ending.

So, earlier I mentioned emperor Caracalla's being shivved by his own bodyguard while peeing in the bushes at the side of the road as #17 on the list of History's Most Ignominious Endings. This, of course, prompted people to ask who were the other sixteen ahead of him on the list.

To tell the truth, I just kinda winged that and didn't really have an actual, you know, list in front of me, so I'm open to suggestions. The only position on the list that isn't up for debate is Number One.

We'll get the top twenty wrung out, and then write it up.

Discuss.

27 comments:

B Smith said...

A few years back, I read an account of the death of one Sir Cloudesley Shovel, a British naval hero (who gets another nod, just for the name). In 1707 his ship, the HMS Association, struck the rocks off the Isles of Scilly and sank.
According to one legend, Sir Cloudesley was washed ashore, still alive, where he was clubbed to death by an old woman who had witnessed the wreck. At the time, British law allowed anyone to claim flotsam as property, and she invoked this law successfully, in order to gain the expensive rings on his fingers.

tickmeister said...

Maybe that dude who hung out with grizzly bears until they ate him and his girlfriend. I don't remember his name, but there was a recent movie about him. Although maybe astonishing stupidity doesn't count as ignonomy.

Hypnagogue said...

My submission is Judges 4:21.

"Sit still or I'll nail your other head to the ground."

Rio Arriba said...

So poor Edward's demise is blamed on "global cooling." Heaven knows what we have in store for US.

Joseph said...

I watched that movie, "Grizzly Man" I think it is called. Frankly, the guy seemed more than a bit touched in the head.

Jay G said...

Well, if not #1, then the demise of Catherine the Great of Russia surely ranks as #2.

And the "Grizzly Whisperer" was Timothy Treadwell.

Or, if you will, call him by his Indian name: He Who Is Shat By Bear.

The Raving Prophet said...

Hypnagogue, the Bible is full of good (or bad) ways of people getting their ticket punched in new and interesting ways.

Still, historically, I'd think that John Sedgwick ought to be on there. Good old "they can't hit an elephant at this range" himself.

William the Coroner said...

And then, don't forget George, Duke of Clarence, drowned in a butt of malmsey.

The Greeks had interesting ways of ignominious ends--look up the boats and the brazen bull on Wiki.

Noah D said...

This savagery...also reflected the general malaise, anger, and pessimism of the new age of global cooling.

Jimmah, you got off light.

Anonymous said...

So far as group efforts, the Roman Legion group that got snuffed wholesale in the Teutonic Forests must have been a pretty embarrassing final act. Lost Eagles, and all, y'know.

Recently discovered archaeological evidence shows that they were marching so unaware, that a long earthworks wall, large enough to bury mounted cavalrymen, was pushed over onto the troopies. The balance of the Legions apparently participated as guests of honor at the victory festivities around local tarns.

For a more local flava, George Armstrong Custer's miscalculation was significantly final. One Lt Fetterman had earlier made a sterling trial run for the title of Hubris in Stirrups, but George made the most his own opportunity.

And speaking of dolts in stirrups, the totally unsupported Tally-Ho run-down-the-fleeing-rabble-charge of the Brit mounted aristocracy, in front of Wellington's lines at Napoleon's Last Fling in Waterloo, proved to be decimating affair for the bought-a-commission Titled Set.

As to creative individually ignominious historic ends, I wish I knew the history of Japanese and Chinese better. I can't help but think there would be some prizewinners, there.

J t R

Conchscooter said...

Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited, Put Out More Flags, Scoop) the British writer had a dread of dying alone. At dinner one evening with his family he was overcome by an urgent need for the smallest room and there he died, alone on the throne.

Warthog said...

Well hell, Elvis did that.

wolfwalker said...

From Japan, one could offer Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. Commander of the Pearl Harbor Striking Force on the Day of Infamy, two and a half years later he was "Naval Commander in Chief" of the Marianas, commanding a bunch of subchasers and other small craft. When the Americans invaded in summer '44 and escape was impossible, Nagumo shot himself.

Bob said...

Pat Garrett, who killed Billy The Kid, met an ignominious end when he was shot from ambush while urinating by the side of the road. So Garrett died with his boots on and his dick in hand.

staghounds said...

I think Tam might be looking for technique, rather than context or irony here.

It's hard to beat the spectacularity of defenestration, especially when followed by canine consumption- which was my childhood Bible favourite-

"So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses and he trod her under foot. And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter. And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: and the carcass of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel."

And in modern times- what, you couldn't outrun molasses?

I had a classmate whose sister fell out of the boat and was devoured by crocodiles in Australia.

Three hundred years from now, she'll be the only member of his family that his descendants remember- "That's your great great great great aunt Mary, she fell out of the boat and was devoured by crocodiles in Australia".

Anonymous said...

If it's not already top on the list: Edward II King of England--very unpopular king, known for having young gay lovers, deposed by his wife and her lover, and then killed by having a red hot poker...strategically placed.

Mikee said...

I can personally vouch for this one, having had the analysis of ammonia content in the air done in my lab: a ship's welder was told to repair something down in the bilge, and died from ammonia fumes caused by the hot rebar he was cutting dropping into the bilge water and boiling the piss....

And no, the analysis was not at all pleasant. My lab partner spent several days dropping heated pieces of rebar into a beaker of her own urine, and carefully measuring the atmospheric concentration of ammonia above the boiling liquid.

rob said...

Just read about Edward II...that sounds like an unfortunate end. And I got the pun involved in the title. Indeed, that does deserve the number one spot.

Weer'd Beard said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Pinyan

Kenneth Pinyan, met his end while having sex with a horse while a buddy filmed the encounter.

I'm sure some of his last thoughts were "Man, that wasn't worth it!"

Rivrdog said...

Some two years ago, the History Channel did a piece on execution.

The Brass Bull was mentioned, and it was probably the worst method (being seared and cooked to death), but being hung, drawn and quartered was a normal form of execution for the worst offenders in England for quite a while, lasting until 1600 or so.

Death on the gibbets wasn't quick, you were simply left to hang by the neck until dead, and unless someone who could get away with it took pity and pulled you down by the legs, forcing a quicker death, it could take twenty minutes or longer to die. Very LONG minutes, I would imagine.

If you have a chance, watch that program, maybe save it to show the next person who rails at you on the subject of waterboarding...

Anonymous said...

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showpost.php?p=507826&postcount=4

Peter said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unusual_deaths looks like a good place to start building a list from.

kishnevi said...

Crassus was killed by the Parthians by means of being forced to eat swallow molten gold.
Arius was another person who died on the toilet.
Medieval executions and tortures can supply all the gory endings one wants. Vlad Dracul did not invent impalement, he simply practiced it on a grander scale than most others. Then there were the common criminals who were killed by breaking on the wheel--which was actually a method of breaking every single bone in the body, slowly and continously, and could last for a few days. Then there were the folks who torn apart by horses being whipped in opposite directions...

pax said...

How about the death of Nicole duFresne? Her last words -- while looking down the barrel of a mugger's gun -- were, "What are you going to do, shoot us?!?"

Brilliant ...

mariner said...

Tam,

Methinks you're a bit confused.

Wasn't that really number two?

(Just askin')

Anonymous said...

Quote: "As to creative individually ignominious historic ends, I wish I knew the history of Japanese and Chinese better. I can't help but think there would be some prizewinners, there."

Ah, quite possibly. However, what is ignominious to us, might well be heroic in other cultures. Thinking of the daft, fruitless, wasteful bayonet-charges of the Japanese in WW2, here. Things like that would earn you a Darwin award and a roll-eyes smiley in our culture, but for them, it was as heroic as can be.

However, the story/myth of Uesugi Kenshin's untimely death probably falls under the "ignominious" category, wherever you hail from. Supposedly, whilst perched upon the old thunderbox quietly doing his business, he was speared up the arse by a midget ninja hiding in the cesspit! He died three days later, never uttering another word.

Well, would you?

Being stabbed up the butt is ignominious by anyone's standards, but by a midget?? A ninja midget with a spear?? Whilst you're taking a crap?? Surely that's as bad as it gets...

By God, I hope so.

L.C.D

Zoe Brain said...

Here's one that will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Alan Pinkerton (of Detective Agency fame) tripped, fell, and bit his tongue.

Which became gangrenous, and he died of it.

Ewwwwwww.