Imagine you are an ancient Egyptian or Nubian warrior, returning victorious from battle. People line the streets screaming with joy upon your return.
You take a knee in front of your Pharaoh. You are choked up because finally—finally—you will receive the golden Amulet of Honor you have been dreaming about since you were a boy.
Only the best warriors earn this amulet. Is it a roaring lion? A hissing cobra? A chomping crocodile? Nope. It’s something better.
With trembling hands you take your golden ceremonial...fly.
The highest honor for an Egyptian or Nubian warrior was a fly. Why? Turns out the flies in Egypt and in the Sudan are relentless.
They dog you until you beg for mercy. And then when you do, they call all their friends and harass you until you either die or go insane, whichever comes first.
So while to us, earning a “Fly” seems a little weird—if not downright giggle-worthy—to the ancient Egyptians and Nubians, it was recognition of a warrior’s relentless pursuit and defeat of his enemy.
PS: Thanks to Rick Riordan for mentioning learning about the Fly during the tour we did together at the fabulous Michael C. Carlos Museum on his blog last week (http://tinyurl.