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Too Dumb To Live / Myths & Religion

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  • In the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul, Simon Magus, in a debate with Peter and Paul in front of emperor Nero, declared himself a god and to "prove" it used demons to make himself fly levitate, only for Peter to exorcise the demons and make him fall so hard his body broke in four... An act that under Roman law counted as using magic to cause harm and was an automatic death sentence, and had been done in front of the emperor and multiple Roman nobles and high-ranking government officials. Nero promptly orders Peter and Paul both imprisoned, and later has Peter crucified for the act and Paul beheaded as an accomplice.
  • The Bible seems to think that this is true of people in general
    • Adam and Eve. You live in a garden of paradise and pleasure free of pain, sickness and disease. God (immortal, omnipresent, omnipotent, famously short temper) tells you that there is only one rule. Don't then go and eat the fruit like a moron... The fruit bears the knowledge of Good and Evil. The only reason they didn't eat it was because God said don't do it, and they were like "Cool, whatevs." Then along come a serpent who, for whatever reason, thinks it would be just peachy-keen to go and make the humans do it anyway. He does it either by tricking the humans or flat out lying about the whole thing and getting them to defy God's will because they literally didn't know any better. So chalk the snake right up there with A&E as fitting this trope, since even if they hadn't ratted him out, God still would have known who put them up to it and taken away its limbs and made snakes and humans eternal enemies.
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    • Lot's wife. Lot's family was explicitly told not to look back at Sodom and Gomorrah, but she still did so. The end result? She's the sole individual ever turned into a salt pillar.
    • The Benjamites in Judges. Among your people are some Depraved Bisexuals who wanted to rape a guy, who was forced to give up his concubine to save himself. Said concubine gets fatally raped and abused. Said guy tells the rest of Israel about it, and when they go all What the Hell, Hero? on the Benjamites, tell the Benjamites to give up the villains or get their asses kicked... The Benjamites refuse (note, the tribe of Benjamin was the smallest of the main tribes, and was going up against the other 11). Then subverted when the Benjamites defeat the rest of the Israelites at least twice before they get finally defeated.
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    • Samson is the Ur-Example of this trope. (The "Dur" example?) The first time Delilah asks him the secret of his power, he lies to her and says he can be bound with fresh bowstrings. The next night she tries this. When it doesn't work, she asks again, and he lies to her again and says he can be bound with new ropes. The next night she tries this. When that doesn't work, she asks again, and again he lies to her and says he can be bound by weaving his hair together. Once again she tries and fails. So far so good. But the next time she asks? After she's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's going to screw him over? He tells her the truth. Each of these attempts involve soldiers bursting in on cue to try to take advantage of the situation. Samson must have really been into bondage. Made worse by the fact that Samson is not supposed to be your typical big dumb brute, and is shown in at least a few instances to be rather clever.
    • The Philistines who were trying to kill him easily fall into this trope as well. Samson kills ONE THOUSAND of them with a DONKEY'S JAWBONE. You almost have to admire the last 300 or so who probably had to climb a mountain of their dead buddies just to get close enough to die.
    • Honestly, the ancient Israelites in the Old Testament in general sometimes fall into this trope, as they keep suddenly deciding to worship other gods, even though the First Commandment forbids it and something horrible happens to them every time they do, they just go and do it again anyway. The worst has to be when Moses goes up the mountain to get the 10 commandments. Even though they had all seen God devastate Egypt with the plagues, set down a fire to block the Egyptians, and part the Red Sea, the Israelites decide to worship a golden bull statue while Moses is up in the mountain.
    • Mankind in the Book of Revelation, overlapping with Humans Are Bastards. When God unleashes cataclysms (like turning the seas into blood, a Colony Drop in the form of a star that poisons the global water supply, and an army of fire-breathing warrior angels) that wipe out more than a quarter of the human population at once, you might want to consider giving up idol worship. If you buy the theory that John was explaining the prophecy in terms that he could understand, it may be the case that the apocalypse, horrible as it is, won't be so obviously supernatural in its trappings. Or even if non-believers realize it's supernatural, they would naturally assume it was their own gods/demons doing it. Why would they be expected to change to a foreign faith, and risk offending their own gods, in that context?
    • The Egyptian army when pursuing Moses. You're pursuing a guy that brought several plagues upon your nation and a column of fire prevents you from pursuing while the sea splits for this guy and his people. So you follow them into the sea bed?
    • Satan. While the Bible's portrayal of God and Satan don't exactly match current understandings (the Book of Job shows Satan and God having a seemingly-friendly bet), the modern Christian understanding of God is an all-powerful, all-knowing creator of all things. Satan, on the other hand, is an angel who decided to try to take on God. Apparently, Satan thought he could outsmart someone who knew what he was going to do before he did, or out-muscle someone who could do literally anything. And he somehow convinces one-third of the other angels to go along with this plan.
    • Numbers 25: God has just told the Israelites that those who have been sexually immoral with the heathens must be put to death. So in comes some guy with a pagan woman right before the whole damn assembly...
    • Fat Idiot Eglon king of Moab. Yeah, only check one side of the tribute-bringer—who is of the people you've subjugated—for a concealed weapon, and then dismiss your guards. Really, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
      • In fairness to Eglon, left-handedness was considered a curse in that era, to the point that there were attempts to 'cure' left-handed children. So the fact that Ehud was left-handed was a surprise is somewhat justified. Kicking his guards out when told that there was a 'message from God' for his ears only, however, without considering what, exactly, that message would be (particularly since it was coming from the God who was notoriously protective of the people he had enslaved, at least when they weren't being idiots themselves), still qualifies him for this trope.
    • A tale about a donkey who died of hunger between two equally big piles of hay. The story is commonly known as "Buridan's Ass", though the idea predates Buridan, and can even be found as far back as Aristotle:
      "...a man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death..."
  • Greek Mythology:
    • Arachne. It's fairly well-known to the people of Greek mythology that the Olympians were extremely jealous when it came to mortals claiming to be their equals or betters. Arachne decides to boast that she's a better weaver than Athena and continues to do so despite several warnings from the goddess herself in disguise. They engage in a weaving contest. So this girl is sitting there, weaving while Athena herself is there and pissed off - and what does she do? She makes the pictures of her tapestry depict scenes of Athena's father Zeus being a womanizing scoundrel. After all of that, of course Athena has had enough and turns her into a spider. Other versions have her actually be a better weaver or not actually boast of her talent but got famous anyway, but have her done something else that earned her ire anyway (Like pulling a Take That! against Zeus, depicting him as a Womanizer, despite the fact that the Gods don't take criticism from mortals well).
    • Jason near the end of the quest for the Golden Fleece. So here he has Medea, the beautiful black sorceress who had fallen so madly in love with him thanks to Cupid's arrow, that she helps him steal her father's most prized possession and kills her own brother to make a diversion so Jason can escape. So everything's going pretty good for a while, and they have a number of children together. Then what does Jason do? He goes up to Medea and tells her that he's dumping her for the daughter of the king of Corinth, despite the fact that they have kids, he still owes her, and she has nowhere else to go. Naturally, Medea takes revenge. (You can read the details in Euripides). Doubly so since his patron goddess was Hera, goddess of marriage. Thanks to this action and oaths broken to the other Olympians, Jason loses everything and spends the rest of his life as a wandering beggar, dying when a piece of his old ship the Argo falls on him when he is sitting under it.
      • In the most ancient version Medea doesn't kill two of their kids, she just kills the woman Jason was going to marry with a poisoned dress that sets her on fire, and then accidentally burns down the royal palace when the king spreads the flames in a vain attempt to put them out (he can be justified, as seeing your daughter suddenly combusting for no clear reason can have this effect). So, who killed the children? The citizens of Corinth in retaliation for the palace fire. After seeing that Medea could do that. And owing Medea their lives when she used her magic to stave off a famine. While the palace is still burning. At which point Medea sets the whole city on fire (easy, given the palace is still burning) and unleashes a plague, before leaving with one of the surviving children on a chariot pulled by dragons. At this point the Corinthians smarten up, as they don't give chase nor retaliate against the other children (in fact they help Jason put one of them on the throne of another city), hence their ability to ultimately rebuild.
    • King Laomedon of Troy refused to pay the sea god Poseidon for building the walls of Troy. Poseidon sent a sea monster to terrorize the city. Heracles agreed to slay it for payment. Laomedon refused him and Heracles returned years later, sacked Troy, killed Laomedon and nearly his entire family. This chain of events was a major contributing factor in the Trojan War.
    • Ixion was similar to Laomedon. First he murdered his father-in-law instead of paying the bride price. He was cursed with madness and force to live in the wilderness. Zeus himself, in a rare example of exceeding generosity, purified Ixion of his madness and even brought him up to Olympus. Ixion, in violation of Sacred Hospitality, kept checking out and trying to feel up Hera, Zeus' wife, and showed he was willing to try and rape her when Zeus floated a sex doll made of clouds shaped like her by his room at night and he assaulted it, utterly failing a Secret Test of Character. Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt and in the underworld has him tied to a burning wheel for all eternity.
    • The terminal stupidity of Odysseus' crew in The Odyssey is so blatant that one guy who tried to help them get home is convinced that the gods are responsible for it, since no one could possibly be that dumb. For context, this guy was Aeolus the master of the four winds. He gave Odysseus a bag containing the winds that he used to get back to Ithaca. Right when they were in sight of Ithaca's coastline, Odysseus' crew opened the bag while he slept, thinking Aeolus had given Odysseus a bag of gold that he was hoarding from the crew. The out of control winds blew the ship all the way back to Aeolus' island. Aeolus refused to help them again, believing this was a sign that the gods had it in for them. Odysseus himself wasn't much better. Not only did he piss off Poseidon despite knowing very well how stupid it is to piss off the Gods and thus get the entire ordeal started to begin with, he continues to defiantly oppose Poseidon instead of apologizing at any point during the Odyssey, stab out the eye of Poseidon's Cyclops son and let it know who he was, delaying his return even further, and the above incident could have been avoided if Odysseus had simply told his crew Aeolus' bag's true nature at any point. To be fair though, Odysseus had to blind Polyphemus to save his life (Polyphemus had eaten several of his men and wouldn't let the rest of them out).
    • There's the story of Theseus and Pirithous. Theseus and his friend Pirithous decide that it would be a great idea to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen, whilst Pirithous chose Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Apparently, the best plan they could come up with for kidnapping Persephone was waltzing into the underworld and asking her godly husband Hades if they could take her. Long story short, Hades trapped them both and tortured them. Theseus was eventually freed by Heracles. Pirithous never left. Double stupid since Persephone came above ground half the year.
    • King Midas. There is no way that everything you touch turning to gold could go wrong. No sir, none at all. Oh, look, your daughter wants a hug! Really, it seems to be inherited, since this was some time after Midas gained the golden touch and his daughter has no excuse for forgetting that. Then again, the girl was supposed to be eight or so in the stories that include her. He just should count his blessings, that the Golden Touch didn't seem to affect air, otherwise he would have died instantly.
      • Midas didn't have a daughter in the story until Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote her into it in 1852. Incidentally, Aristotle wrote that Midas starved to death. But if Midas had starved, he wouldn't have done the other foolish thing he is associated with, namely deciding a musical contest between Pan and Apollo in favor of Pan. Apollo then gave him donkey's ears, which was so embarrassing that Midas wore a cap thereafter and swore his barber to secrecy. The barber, bursting to tell someone, dug a hole in the ground and whispered the secret into it, then covered it up. Grain grew on the spot, and when the wind blew through the stalks, the resulting sound revealed the truth. Midas killed himself.
    • Aura, a minor goddess and fellow huntress to Artemis, once felt it was a good idea to comment on Artemis's body. Specifically, to go into long, laborious detail on how Artemis's body was far too womanly to be a virgin, that her own body was much more virgin-like in comparison (accompanied by descriptions that make one wonder if she was feeling herself up as she did so), and that Artemis probably should sleep around like her body suggests she does. Artemis, as one could expect, takes that badly and Aura ends up raped by Dionysus, going mad, and eating one of her resulting twins boys (Artemis saving the other, having not planned the latter and probably not the madness either).
    • King Erysichthion of Thessaly thought it would be a good idea to chop down a whole grove of trees that were sacred to the goddess Demeter and were the lifelines for the Dryads (tree nymphs). Despite the warnings from his men that bad things would transpire if he did that, the idiot still went ahead and chopped down a tree that he knew belonged to a Dryad. As the Dryad died, she cursed Erysichthion and Demeter granted her request by sending Limos, the spirit of famine and starvation, to take up residence in Erysichthion's stomach, causing him to be cursed with an endless hunger that made him sell his daughter into slavery in exchange for food. After his daughter escaped from him, Erysichthion then resorted to AutoCannibalism. See what happens when you forget that you live in a world ruled by vengeful gods?
  • Some baddies from the Grimm Fairy Tales definitely qualify. Just take the Goose Maid: The King asks the imposter what would be the fair punishment for someone who commits identity theft and generic bastardness on a princess, and she doesn't recognize her own story and suggests to strip the perpetrator naked, put him into a barrel with sharp nails and roll him from the hill into the river. Her wish is granted. (Averted in most TV versions, of course)
  • Joukahainen in The Kalevala. He challenges Väinämöinen, the greatest sage of the epos, to a one-on-one bespelling matchup. Väinämöinen bespells him into a marsh. He is saved from death by drowning only by promising his sister as a wife for Väinämöinen.
  • In Norse Mythology, pretty much everyone who listens to, bets with or upsets Loki is way too dumb to live. And then they blame him for their own idiocy, which just makes him more upset. Eventually this causes the end of the world.
  • The Pardoner's Tale is about three drinking buddies who see their friend is dead, and decide to go out and find death so they can kill him. Three guesses as to what happens...
  • In the Talmud, the Sages establish the standards of evidence for the death penalty to include two kosher witnesses (i.e., male Orthodox Jews) who have to verbally warn the perpetrator that what he's about to do carries the death penalty, and the perpetrator has to verbally answer that yes, he knows, and he's going to do it anyway. At that point, anyone who actually gets executed probably deserves to be removed from the gene pool. Or be committing Suicide by State.


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