STRANGE “FACTS” ABOUT MENELIK II (1844–1913), EMPEROR OF ETHIOPIA (1889–1913)

Source: Clifton Fadiman’s Book of Anecdotes (2000)

1 In the late nineteenth century, news of the success of the electric chair as a means of dispatching criminals reached Ethiopia. Menelik II eagerly ordered one. When it arrived, however, he was disappointed to find that it did not work: no one had warned him that Ethiopia’s lack of electricity would be a problem. The criminals of the nation sighed with relief and the emperor, anxious that his new acquisition should not go to waste, had the chair converted into a throne.

2 The emperor had one eccentricity. If he felt unwell, he was convinced that he had only to eat a few pages of the Bible in order to feel better. This odd behavior did him little harm, as long as his testamentary intake was modest. However, in December 1913 he was recovering from a stroke, when he suddenly felt extremely ill. On his instructions the complete Book of Kings was torn from the Bible and fed to him, page by page. He died before he had consumed the entire book.

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