On this day in 365 BCE the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was destroyed. It was burned down by an arsonist named Herostratus.
He committed this heinous act in a bid to become immortally famous.
The temple was located in Ephesus (now Efes) in Ionian Greece (now part of Modern Turkey) . The Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death, but also passed a greater sentence on him. They forbade anyone to use is name, on pain of death. Their intention was to prevent him achieving the very thing that he sought.
Unfortunately the story was recorded by historians and Herostratus won out in the end. Herostratic fame is “Fame acquired by destructive means”.
In modern society we see many examples. School shooters are a prime example. People like Mark David Chapman, who murdered John Lennon and said “The result would be that I would be famous; the result would be that my life would change and I would receive a tremendous amount of attention”.
Terrorism organisations have learned that they can gain notoriety through herostratic acts such that a small terror cell can dominate global media. ISIS, Al Qaida, Hammas, Hezbollah etc all leverage this dynamic in the Middle East.
Since the destruction of the Temple of Artemis the greatest Herostratic act was the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.