To Your Heart's Content

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hashish and Assassins, who woulda thought...

Came across an interesting fact the other day...Mohammed promised those (males?) who obey his will the enjoyments of Paradise—a place where every sensual gratification could be found. Well, as told in “The Travels of Marco Polo”, the Old Man of the Mountains (a chief around Northern Persia [today’s Syria], early 13th century) desired that his followers understand that he was a Prophet, and thus did so by demonstrating his power of granting Paradise to those he should deign to favor. His planned worked well in training assassins, which he did by administering a healthy dose of opium to some youths and while in stupor, transporting them to rooms in the palace. Once awakened, they found themselves in the midst of the most delightful objects that could be procured at the time: lovely damsels singing, playing, caressing…; delectable foods, exquisite wines; and an excess of rivulets of milk…assuredly in Paradise, unwilling to ever leave…Similarly transported out, they admitted they were indeed in Paradise. The Old Man thus spoke: he who defends me shall inherit Paradise. The youths thereby were forward to die in his service and, as the story goes, they formed a fearless lot of disciplined assassins who were ready to die under his orders.

The original Old Man of the Mountains, according to “The Travels of Marco Polo”, was one Sheik-al-Jabal, of the first sect of Assassins in 1090. Interestingly, the word for assassin comes from the drug Hashish [Hashishin] , which was used to intoxicate the young men who would soon become assassins. The last Old Man of the Mountain was slain in 1255 when 1,200 Assassins were also massacred. Small bodies of this tribe lingered about the mountains of Syria and are believed to still exist there...


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