A golden crown is normally something that sounds like a symbol of power and wealth. It is also the title of the sixth episode of season 1 in Game Of Thrones. In previous episodes, Viserys Targaryon sold his sister, Daeneryes Targaryon, as a wife to Khal Drogo in exchange for an army to claim his “rightful place” as king of the Seven Kingdoms. In later episodes, Daeneryes’s popularity rose and people began to worship her. Also Khal Drogo’s people began to treat her like a queen. *Comic rim shot.* Viserys was jealous because he felt like he should be the one treated like royalty and claimed she was nothing but a means to an end.
In the episode, Viserys threatened Daeneryes and her baby. Khal Drogo responded by pouring molten gold over Viserys’s head giving him the “golden crown” he deserved while killing him at the same time.
While I am sure this was a horrifying image (although maybe satisfying), this form of execution is not original. In fact, it was performed throughout history. People have killed others throughout history by similar methods. One of the best recorded incidents was from 1599 where a Spanish governor taxed native tribes to a dangerous point. He was captured, then the natives poured molten gold down his throat to kill him (of course).
Other incidents include the legend of the powerful Roman Crassus. Crassus attempted to capture the Parthian Empire and failed. The legend says the leaders of the Parthian Empire killed him by pouring molten gold down his throat.
Why This Method Of Execution?
Death by golden throat is one of the most tedious execution methods. The melting point of gold (1064ºC or 1948ºF) is fairly high and requires high amounts of energy. Furthermore, IT’S GOLD, gold is not cheap, it never has been cheap. Why would anyone kill someone this way? Primarily, it was to send a message on how greed killed these people. Nothing illustrates how deadly greed can be like finding a body with gold in their throats, their internal organs burst open from steam and their bowels blown out.
Can Greed Be Deadly Today?
There are few examples of gold being poured down people’s throats. But greed is as deadly today as it ever has been, if not even deadlier. However, today’s greed has spread to so many people. Crassus was one of the richest people in the world. He could hire people to do his will. For instance, he frequently hired armies to take land from native people for gains of status. Almost everyone has the same power today. Instead of paying for armies to run through an empire as a symbol of status, every person can hire people to take land, sometimes from native people, and develop factories on them to build items that are symbols of status. As if the ethical conundrum of these situations are not bad enough, the environment is paying for the consumer greed. Greed can be deadly, maybe not today, but it could be in the future.
Why have matters become worse? It is not enough that everyone has to have the newest and best things, but that they need it TODAY! One of the least environmentally friendly things you could do to the environment is to order rushed delivery in e-commerce. This includes anything less than 3 day shipping. By demanding rushed delivery you are paying these companies to ship fewer items in a fuel consuming vehicle and demanding a less energy efficient system. This system is in very high demand considering that around 62% of US households are Amazon Prime members, which provides free rushed delivery. Forgive me if you did not fall for the Amazon Prime membership, but statistically speaking it is likely you did.
Do We Blame The System Or The Consumers?
We blame the consumers. I hate to be that blunt, but practically everything we hate about capitalism including the environmental damages would be gone in a month if consumers wanted. Ultimately, consumerism is a democracy and every dollar is a vote. In fact, if you read the article about rushed delivery you will read about how companies are nudging consumers to try the non-rushed deliveries. “Nudged,” apparently the consumer has to be nudged to make the world saving decision.
Companies create systems that later must be dismantled to save the world and consumers must rely on the decisions of executives in these systems to a point that all it takes is a little “nudge” to have the consumers make the right decision.
Can Greed Be Deadly?: A Death Worse Than You Could Imagine
Having molten gold being poured down your throat and having your internal organs explode from the heat sounds like a painful death, but it’s far from the worst fate you could imagine. Imagine having arsenic in your body at an amount high enough it will erode your insides, but not high enough to give you a merciful and quick death. Or how about dying of thirst because there is no potable water within thousands of kilometers? Even better, how about dying of diseases no one has heard of much less has a treatment for because insects can travel further outside their natural habitat and survive longer? Where’s the line for the exploded internal organs?
If consumer greed continues at the pace it is going, we will die from this greed. If there are any future generations who observe our corpses, they will not find corpses with gold in their throats and the internal organs burst open like squashed oranges, but corpses in which have been dissolved from the inside out by the toxins we produced, mummified bodies trying to reach out for anything to quench our thirst, or a body which has been riddled with a disease. That will be our golden crown if we continue acting as consumers. If you act as an innovator and entrepreneur, you will instead forge the wealth for yourself and the world.