Let Them Drink

Publius Claudius Pulcher, during the Fist Punic War, decided to launch a surprise attack against the Carthaginian navy at Drepana.  Before the battle, it was customary to offer grain to sacred chickens, and if they ate the grain, it was a sign that the gods approved of the battle.  The chickens refused to eat, and Pulcher, enraged, threw them into the sea, saying, “If they will not eat, let them drink!”

He engaged the Carthaginians anyway, and suffered a terrible defeat, losing almost the entirety of the Roman navy, and so demoralizing the Romans that it would be seven years before they again took to the seas.

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