When Xerxes was crossing the Hellespont in the midst of the first Greco-Persian War, he built two bridges that were quickly destroyed. Feeling personally offended, his paranoia led him to believe that the river was consciously acting against him as though it were an enemy. As such Herodotus quotes him as saying "You salt and bitter stream, your master lays his punishment upon you for injuring him, who never injured you. Xerxes will cross you, with or without your permission." He subsequently threw chains into the river, gave it three hundred lashes and "branded it with red-hot irons".It's the semi-snarky use of quotation marks that really puts it over the top.
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