The recent news that British sailors captured and then released by Iran has only fuelled speculation about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s real intentions. Nuclear brinkmanship, after all, carries the risk of going off in everybody’s faces.
With this in mind, perhaps those concerned for Western security should take a leaf out of the history books. It is worth casting our minds back to the eighteenth century Whig politician, Charles James Fox (1749-1806), who wrote so eloquently about how the Ancient Greeks, when threatened by a military aggressor, went off in the faces of Ahmadinnerjacket’s ancestors, the Persians…
The Ancients were prodigious farters, particularly the Grecians. Peditorius the Elder hath recorded that a very important post of the Grecian army was once saved from being surprised by the Persian army in the following remarkable manner. The Persians had a dangerous river to ford, and knew that a small opposition from the Grecians would defeat them if they were attacked in passing the river. They therefore made the attempt in the dead silence of a dark night, at some distance below the outpost of the Grecian army; here they began to ford the river, and several of the Persian soldiers in front had actually made good the landing – but fortunately for the Grecian army, one of the sentries of their advanced posts had strayed from his station to this very spot where the Persians made the attempt.
Now whether the Grecian was seized with a panic or whether he tried the experiment from former success cannot now be ascertained, as Peditorius and all the other historians of that period are silent in respect to his former notoriety in farting. However, the man did fart, and so loud and so many (Crepitus Juvenis says six thousand or more, but I think he must be mistaken or have exaggerated, as the strength of the most able farter could not possibly stand so many thundering convulsions) that the Persians, thinking the Grecian army was in motion and their artillery coming up, were at once seized with a general panic and retreated in such confusion that numbers of them were drowned. The Grecian camp was by this time alarmed; they soon assembled their army, pursued the disordered Persians, came up with and fiercely attacked them, and in a vary short time gained a complete victory. Thus, by the most noble faculty of farting, was the Grecian army saved from being surprised. Thus, by the vigorous exertion of one farting Grecian soldier, did the Persian army fly. And thus, by the effect of astonishing preternatural farting, did the Grecian army obtain a glorious victory over the numerous and powerful Persians.
(Charles James Fox – An Essay upon Wind (1787)
All of this also makes me wonder if this could be the origin of that legendary Ancient incendiary - Greek fire...
(with thanks to jeffssite.net)