Mar 15: St. Ides

In honor of the Ides of March we have Plutarch on the death of Caesar. Plutarch's one of the things I'm glad to encounter in this project -- I've heard of him plenty, but when would you read him? He's not scholarly enough for college, I suspect, and too irrelevant for high school.

In fact, Plutarch would probably benefit from a hip translation like all the epics get, because biography will endure as a genre as long as there is Father's Day. And now, when we've screwed everything up, a there-were-giants-in-those-times reproach biography (also known as "The McCullough"), would go over big, I think.

And Plutarch is so gossipy, too. The first two pages of this are all about the signs and omens, most of which (as I recall) made it into that arch-sensationalist Shakespeare. And, at the end of the reading, when Cassius and Brutus are on the run, Plutarch seems most excited to report how freaky it is:

The most remarkable of mere human coincidences was that which befell Cassius, who, when he was defeated at Philippi, killed himself with the same dagger which he had made use of against Cæsar. The most signal preternatural appearances were the great comet, which shone very bright for seven nights after Cæsar’s death, and then disappeared, and the dimness of the sun, 16 whose orb continued pale and dull for the whole of that year, never showing its ordinary radiance at its rising, and giving but a weak and feeble heat.
I like the division of "mere human coincidences," and the more significant "preternatural appearances".

(This is actually a pretty good translation, by the way; I know I complain a lot but I didn't even notice. To hip up the translation I'd probably make it a little more noir.)

I won't get into the story, which is familiar enough from Shakespeare, but I will pull out one detail:
Casca gave him the first cut, in the neck, which was not mortal nor dangerous, as coming from one who at the beginning of such a bold action was probably very much disturbed. Cæsar immediately turned about, and laid his hand upon the dagger and kept hold of it. And both of them at the same time cried out, he that received the blow, in Latin, “Vile Casca, what does this mean?” and he that gave it, in Greek, to his brother, “Brother, help!”
Our modern assassins are lucky if they're fluent in one language. Maybe everything is going to hell after all.

Pour some out in honor of J.C.

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