Emperor Gallienus and the Chicken —- Rome, 3rd century AD
According to the Historia Augusta, a biography of the Roman Emperors, in the mid 3rd century AD a merchant was caught selling fake jewels to Salonina, the wife of Roman Emperor Gallienus. Gallienus ordered the man arrested and ordered that he be punished by being fed to a lion as part of the spectacles in the Colosseum.
The merchant was forced into the Colosseum to face off with the lion. As his bladder gave out he could hear the ferocious roar of the mighty beast that was going to devour him in mere moments. With Gallienus’ signal the gate was opened and out strode a mean, mighty, TERRIFYING… chicken. As the chicken lunged from the opened gate the people of Rome laughed at the hoax. Emperor Gallienus announced, “He has deceived and then was himself deceived.”
The merchant was allowed to return home, his only punishment being the laughing stock of Rome.