This was published on the groaners listserv. The author is unknown.

One fine day in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar turned his attention to a problem plaguing his mighty empire: laundry. Getting all those white togas clean was a constant pain.

He also had some weird ideas that if he could get the togas stiff enough, they would be like a light coat of armor — not enough to last through a sustained battle, but enough to ward off an assassin’s arrow. He figured the easiest way to get this done on a large scale would be to dump a bunch of detergent into a tidal pool, and dump the togas in afterwards. (This was two thousand years ago, remember — the environmental movement was restricted to a few druids here and there). The gentle motion of the tides would wash the dirt out.

Afterwards, all that would have to be done would be to throw some starch in, and then pull the togas out to dry.

He assigned this task to some of his scientists and engineers. They started executing his plan, and all was going well until they threw in the starch. The Goddess of Nature, angered at the environmental destruction, caused a huge tidal wave to spring up and wash over the assembled workers. A stiff breeze afterwards dried them off so quickly they were all frozen into place.

After a little while, Caesar began to wonder about the progress of the enterprise, so he decided to visit the site with some of his advisors. Arriving at the tidal pool, he was unable to make heads or tails of the sight of his workers stuck standing there. Until, of course, one of his advisors whispered to him, “Beware, the tides of starch.”

Lowrie Beacham then added:

Et tu? Then dye, Caesar!

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