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Friday, 16 January 2015

Famine

The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus credited the Lydians with the invention of dice. During a famine, he asserted, they had supplied their people with dice. As they had not enough food to eat daily, men and women were given dice to throw every other day. In the excitement of gambling, they forgot about their hunger.

In 1235 there was a major famine in England resulting in 20,000 deaths in London alone. The starving resorted to eating tree barks and grass.

As a student Saint Dominic once sold his books (a huge sacrifice in the days before printing) to provide food for the poor during a famine. For him poverty was a virtue.

During the famine of 1575 Ivan the Terrible invited some starving beggars to his palace to eat. Instead of feeding the peasants, he killed them and threw them into the river just for a laugh.

In early 19th century Ireland, potatoes were the mainstay of the diet of poor peasants. However between 1845-48 there was a crop crisis caused by potato blight and the ensuing famine was extreme. The famine devastated the crop and depopulated the island. Some 750,000 people died and over one million emigrated, most of them to the United States.

During the Great Irish Famine, the Ottoman Sultan "Abdulmejid I" couldn't donate more than £1,000, in order not to embarrass Queen Victoria's £2,000 donation. Wanting to donate more, he sent up to three ships filled with wheat and Indian Corn in 1847 as a "hushed-up" gesture, not wanting to upset the Queen.

The population of Ireland still hasn't returned to where it was before the Great Famine of the 1840s.

The Great Famine of Mount Lebanon (1915–1918) was a period of mass starvation during World War I. Around 200,000 men, women and children starved to death at a time when the population of Mount Lebanon was estimated at 400,000. The Mount Lebanon famine caused the highest fatality rate by population of World War I.

Starving man and children in Mount Lebanon (1915-1918)
Austrian-American mathematician, philosopher and logician Kurt Gödel (April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) starved to death, after his wife was hospitalized and he did not trust eating food prepared by anyone else. 

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