2. Bupalus Got Dissed So Bad He Killed Himself
Trolling that quickly escalates into something worse is not a newfangled development unique to the internet era, but has been around since forever, in just about all cultures around the world. The ancient Greeks, in particular, were no slouches when it came to trolling that sparked off flame wars. A good example was the steadily escalating back and forth trolling between Bupalus of Chios and the poet Hipponax of Ephesus (both flourished 6th century BC), which culminated with Bupalus committing suicide after an epic takedown.
Bupalus was a famous sculptor whose marble statues, typically of draped female figures such as Artemis, The Graces, or Fortune, were in high demand throughout the Greek world. Centuries after Bupalus’ death, the Roman emperor Augustus had his agents scour the Greek world for statues by the famous sculptor, which he used to decorate the Temple of Apollo in Rome. In addition to being a world class sculptor, Bupalus was also a world class troll, who had the misfortune to get into a tiff with an even bigger troll.
Hipponax of Ephesus was a poet, but not one of those high brow types like Homer or Hesiod, or a gentle soul who penned pretty verses about summer idylls in rolling meadows, as gentle lambs frolicked about. Instead, his bread and butter seems to have been in the territory of acerbic lines such as “There are two days when a woman is a pleasure: the day one marries her and the day one carries out her dead body“, and diss poetry. In addition to an ugly personality, Hipponax had a gargoyle face to match.
The beef started when Hipponax sought to marry Bupalus’ daughter, only for her father to reject him, sparing the girl from a life with somebody who was, by all reports, as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside. Bupalus then rubbed salt in the wound by caricaturing the unsightly Hipponax in some of his sculptures. Hipponax responded with rhymes that accused Bupalus of being a literal motherfu*ker, and went into graphic details about the sex acts the sculptor supposedly engaged in with his mother. Unable to stand the ensuing public mockery, Bupalus hanged himself. His fate became a byword, as illustrated by a line from ancient Athenian comic playwright Aristophanes: “Someone ought to give them a Bupalus or two on the jaw—that might shut them up for a bit“.