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There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute:

Turns out P.T. Barnum wasn’t the man behind the memorable aphorism “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Though nearly always attributed to Barnum, the quote about suckers was actually from a first-rate sucker (and Barnum rival) named David Hannum.  In 1869, Hannum and four business partners paid $37,500 for a 10-foot-tall stone giant man.  The Cardiff Giant was in fact an elaborate hoax played by a tobacconist named John Hull, who had the stone man carved, then buried in Cardiff, New York, and then dug up again.  Theories abounded about the giant (was  he a petrified biblical figure? an ancient Native American statue?), and thousands of people paid good money to catch a glimpse.  Of course, Hannum was looking to make back his investment easily.  But then P.T. Barnum built a giant and claimed that it was the true Cardiff Giant.  When people flocked to see Barnum’s fake, Hannum – who didn’t yet know he’d paid almost 40 grand for a fake giant of his own – mused incredulously, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Sure is.  And it takes one to know one, Mr. Hannum.

Pope and Daughter Caught Groping at Same Orgy:

Not many women can claim the pope as her baby’s daddy, but Vanozza del Cattanei could.  the mistress of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, she bore him four children before he became Pope Alexander VI in 1492.  The most famous were Cesare and Lucrezia.  Cesare was a ruthless general and politician, known for poisoning his enemies and conquering the cities of Romagna one by one in a three-year campaign (he also served as the model for Machiavelli’s The Prince).  His sister Lucrezia was married off to one noble after another as a pawn in her father’s system of alliances.

A little too fond of wealth, power, and luxurious decadence, Alexander VI was also accustomed to treating himself well by throwing notorious parties at the Vatican.  The most infamous of his galas was the Ballet of the Chestnuts on October 30, 1501.  Naked, painted men and women allegedly greeted guests as “living statues,” and beautiful prostitutes danced nude, after which the party pro0gressed into an orgy.  Lucrezia’s attendance reinforced rumors of incest.  The pope supposedly lusted after his daughter as his sons Cesare and Juan fought over her as well.  Some even claim Cesare murdered his brother Juan out of jealousy.

Pope’s Who Died in the Act:

Apparently papal infallibility only gets you so far.  First we have Pope Leo VII (d. 939 CE), who died of a heart attack during the act.  Then there’s Pope John XII (d. 964 CE), who was reportedly bludgeoned to death, naked in bed, by the jealous husband of his sex partner.  And who could forget Pope John XIII (d. 972 CE), who remarkably enough departed this earthly existence in exactly the same way as John XII.  Then, of course, there’s good ol’ Pope Paul II (d. 1471 CE), who for variety’s sake had a heart attack while being sodomized by a page boy.

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