Plot twists in history: Stories of Genghis Khan, Mithridates VI, Julius Caesar

Fareeha Arshad

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We have a knack for having everything go according to our plans. But imagine, if everything always went as per our plans, life would have been so predictable and perhaps even dull. World history as we know it today is a culmination of schemes that went wrong and unexpected plot twists. Let’s look at some of such surprising events that had a massive impact on the historical accounts.

1. The time when an impolite welcome cost a kingdom

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Once, the Mongol King Genghis Khan sent a large caravan to a Middle Eastern kingdom, Khwarezmia, in the hopes to start a new connection with them. However, the Shah did not appreciate the Mongols in his land. So, instead of agreeing to the new alliance, he ordered their arrest and killed them.

Rather than going on a killing spree as we would expect Genghis Khan to react, he sent a few of his ambassadors to the governor to explain his good intentions. His ambassadors were killed again without being heard, and their heads were sent back to the Khan. After the repeated insults, Genghis Khan had enough. He immediately ordered the invasion of the empire; while the Shah escaped to the Caspian coast, where he eventually died.

2. The time when the king couldn’t be poisoned

Around 100 B.C., Mithridates VI was the ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus. Though he was a great leader, he was extremely paranoid. Because he saw his predecessors being assassinated using poison, he believed he would also be killed with poison. So to avoid the immediate effects of poisoning, he decided to make his body immune to poison. He would consume small portions of various toxins along with his food to make his body used to it.

Unfortunately, his thoroughly thought plan backfired. Once, when the Romans captured Mithridates VI, he felt somewhat degraded. So, to save his reputation, he tried poisoning himself — but sadly, he was already immune to most poisons, thanks to his paranoia. Eventually, his enemies killed him with a sword because he failed to take his own life.

3. The time when the bluff was…not a bluff

Once, Julius Caesar was taken as a captive by Cilician pirates of the Mediterranean Sea and demanded twenty talents of silver as ransom. Of course, they had no idea that they were dealing with one of the most powerful men in Rome. When he placed the offer for his freedom, Caesar laughed at the small amount and urged them to increase it because he was worth much more.

During his ‘imprisonment’ by the pirates, Caesar seemed to have a fun time because very rarely did it happen that people didn’t know him. He would often mock the pirates that he would get them arrested and probably even crucify them once they would let him go. The pirates would laugh out loud in response to such remarks because they couldn’t believe they had caught one of the most powerful men on earth. However, once Caesar’s men brought them the ransom amount, they realized that he was not bluffing after all. True to his words, the pirates were arrested and were crucified.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I write about current affairs, history, science, and lifestyle.

Texas State
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