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Posts Tagged ‘Julius Caesar

“Veni, vidi, vici”*…


A young (and unshaven) Julius Caesar


In chapter 2 of his Life of Julius Caesar, the Greek historian Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-c.120) describes what happened when Caesar encountered the Cilician pirates, who infested the Aegean Sea, in 75 BCE.  To that point, the Cilician’s had regularly offered the Roman senators slaves, which the nobles needed for their plantations in Italy– and which the Senate accepted as tribute, refraining from sending the Roman navy against the pirates.

The translation below was made by Robin Seager.

First, when the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar burst out laughing. They did not know, he said, who it was that they had captured, and he volunteered to pay fifty. Then, when he had sent his followers to the various cities in order to raise the money and was left with one friend and two servants among these Cilicians, about the most bloodthirsty people in the world, he treated them so highhandedly that, whenever he wanted to sleep, he would send to them and tell them to stop talking.

For thirty-eight days, with the greatest unconcern, he joined in all their games and exercises, just as if he was their leader instead of their prisoner. He also wrote poems and speeches which he read aloud to them, and if they failed to admire his work, he would call them to their faces illiterate savages, and would often laughingly threaten to have them all hanged. They were much taken with this and attributed his freedom of speech to a kind of simplicity in his character or boyish playfulness.

However, the ransom arrived from Miletus and, as soon as he had paid it and been set free, he immediately manned some ships and set sail from the harbor of Miletus against the pirates. He found them still there, lying at anchor off the island, and he captured nearly all of them. He took their property as spoils of war and put the men themselves into the prison at Pergamon. He then went in person to [Marcus] Junius, the governor of Asia, thinking it proper that he, as praetor in charge of the province, should see to the punishment of the prisoners. Junius, however, cast longing eyes at the money, which came to a considerable sum, and kept saying that he needed time to look into the case.

Caesar paid no further attention to him. He went to Pergamon, took the pirates out of prison and crucified the lot of them, just as he had often told them he would do when he was on the island and they imagined that he was joking.

* (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) Julius Caesar, in a letter to the Roman Senate, 46 BCE (after his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus)


As we exclaim “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”, we might recall that it was in this date in 1914 that Franz Ferdinand, 51 year old heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo, then the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovnia, where he was visiting to inspect the Empire’s troops.  A member of the Black Hand nationalist group, Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed both the Crown Prince and his wife as they were being driven through the city.  The assassination– triggering, as it did, competing accusations and the “calling” of interlocking alliances– ignited World War I, which broke out one month later.

Franz Ferdinand



Written by LW

June 28, 2014 at 1:01 am

The rich really *are* different…

On the heels of a study revealing that 59% of the tuna sold in the U.S. isn’t (tuna), more toxic news…

In a finding that surprised even the researchers conducting the study, it turns out that both rich and poor Americans are walking toxic waste dumps for chemicals like mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and bisphenol A, which could be a cause of infertility. And while a buildup of environmental toxins in the body afflicts rich and poor alike, the type of toxin varies by wealth…

While America’s poor are “rich” in toxins that come from plastics and cigarettes,

… People who can afford sushi and other sources of aquatic lean protein appear to be paying the price with a buildup of heavy metals in their bodies, found Jessica Tyrrell and colleagues from the University of Exeter. Using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Tyrrell et al. found that compared to poorer people, the rich had higher levels of mercury, arsenic, caesium and thallium, all of which tend to accumulate in fish and shellfish.

The rich also had higher levels of benzophenone-3, aka oxybenzone, the active ingredient in most sunscreens, which is under investigation by the EU and, argue some experts, may actually encourage skin cancer

Read the whole story in Quartz


As we “just say no” to nigiri, we might send dissolute birthday greetings to the poster boy for excess, Caligula; he was born on this date in 12 CE.  The third Roman Emperor (from from 37 to 41 CE), Caligula (“Little Boots”) is generally agreed to have been a temperate ruler through the first six months of his reign. His excesses after that– cruelty, extravagance, sexual perversity– are “known” to us via sources increasingly called into question.

Still, historians agree that Caligula did work hard to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor at the expense of the countervailing Principate; and he oversaw the construction of notoriously luxurious dwellings for himself.In 41 CE, members of the Roman Senate and of Caligula’s household attempted a coup to restore the Republic.  They enlisted the Praetorian Guard, who killed Caligula– the first Roman Emperor to be assassinated (Julius Caesar was assassinated, but was Dictator, not Emperor).  In the event, the Praetorians thwarted the Republican dream by appointing (and supporting) Caligula’s uncle Claudius the next Emperor.


Written by LW

August 31, 2013 at 1:01 am

By their fruit (or sled or mask or…) ye shall know them…


click the image above, or here


As we whisper “Rosebud,” we might watch our backs, recalling that it was on this date– the Ides of March– in 44 BCE that Julius Caesar, who’d assumed power as Dictator of the Roman Republic, was stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and a gang of other Roman senators.

Muccini’s depiction of the tyrannicide (source)


Lifestyles of the Rich and Fictional…

Home of Gerald & Ellen O’Hara, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, Suellen & Carreen (Gone With The Wind)  2007, India ink and graphite on vellum, 30 x 42 inches.

For artist Mark Bennett, it’s all about the context…  pushing his pens into corners that the cameras can’t reach, he provides floorplans for the homes of famous movie and television characters, from the O’Hara’s to Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson; from the Jetsons to Jeannie.

Explore them here and here.

As we wrestle with Zillow, we might recall that this was a bad date for Roman republicanism:  on this date in 42 BCE, Brutus’s army was decisively defeated by Mark Antony, Octavian, and their troops at the Second Battle of Philippi in the Roman Republican Civil War.  Brutus, who’d joined Cassius in the conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar two years earlier, committed suicide.

Brutus, resting before the battle (source: Heritage History)

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Even more graphic!…

Your correspondent promises to rest his obsession with visualization (at least briefly)– but not before sharing this helpful round-up from the naughty-but-nice folks at COED Magazine: “The 50 Funniest Internet Infographics“…  some will be already familiar to long-time readers, as they’ve been featured here before; many others, likely new…

As we loosen our belts we might reconsider that toga, as it was on this date in 55 BCE (or very nearabouts, scholars suggest) that Julius Caesar and his Roman force first invaded Britain.  Contrary to a rather widely-held belief, Caesar did not on this occasion say “veni, vidi, vici.”  Rather, he wrote those famous words in a report to Rome in 47 BCE after defeating Pharnaces II of Pontus at Zela (in Asia Minor– in just five days… and with no pants).

Edward Armitage’s reconstruction of the first invasion

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It could be worse…

Meet Roy Sullivan.  He was struck by lightening.  Seven times. (Statistically speaking, getting hit by lightning is a three-thousand to one chance. Thus getting hit seven times is roughly a twenty-two septillion to one shot. That’s 22,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. To 1.)

Read Roy’s story and meet the other six members of Cracked.com’s list of “The 7 Most Bizarrely Unlucky People Who Ever Lived“…

As we count our blessings, we might send imperial birthday greetings to Gaius Julius Caesar, born on this date in 100 BCE.  ‘Twas Julius Caesar who, having expanded the Roman world through the conquest of Gaul and the invasion of Britain, led his forces across the Rubicon in 49 BCE and took dictatorial control of Rome, ending the Republic and inaugurating the Empire.

“Veni, vidi, vici,” indeed.

Julius Caesar

Written by LW

July 13, 2009 at 12:01 am

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