Friday, March 16, 2007

Beware the Ides of March!

Yesterday was of course the Ides of March- 2051 years since the assassination of Julius Caesar. Here are five things you may not have known about J.C.

  • Caesar’s family claimed that they were descended from the goddess Venus, through the Trojan hero Aeneas and his son Iulus (from whom their family derived their name).

  • The name Caesar has a number of possible derivations. Probably the most well known is that the first Caesar was born by Caesarean section (Latin caedo, caedere, caesi- to cut). Other suggestions include that the first Caesar killed an elephant (caesai in Moorish) in battle; that he had a thick head of hair (Latin caesaries); that he had bright grey eyes (Latin oculis caesiis).

  • He may have had epilepsy. Suetonius and Plutarch both record seizures, and Shakespeare mentions it in his tragedy Julius Caesar.

  • Caesar was once kidnapped by pirates, who demanded a ransom of 20 talents of gold. Caesar was insulted by such a small sum, and demanded that the pirates raise their price to fifty talents.

  • During the Catilinarian conspiracy, Caesar argued that the conspirators should be imprisoned rather than executed. During the senate’s deliberations, a slave brought came in with a note for Caesar. Cato, Caesar’s great adversary, accused him of being in league with the conspirators, and demanded that the note be read aloud. The note turned out to be a love-letter from Cato’s half-sister.

And three things Caesar (is supposed to have) said:

alea iacta est- the die is cast.

Caesar is supposed to have said this when he crossed the Rubicon with his army, initiating civil war with Rome. He meant that he had passed a point of no return- he had thrown the dice and now had to wait and see what the consequences would be. It’s unclear whether Caesar actually said this, or whether Suetonius made it up to add a bit of drama. If he did say it he probably said it in Greek anyway, as it’s a reference to a play by Menander.

veni vidi vici- I came, I saw, I conquered.

Apparantly Caesar said this to the senate after putting down a rebellion in Pontus (near the black sea). At the time Caesar was in the middle of a civil war, and so his nonchalance was calculated to remind the senate of his military strength.

et tu Brute?- not you too, Brutus?

Caesar’s final words (as his friend Brutus stuck the knife in) according to Shakespeare- but what would he know? Suetonius reports Caesar’s words (still addressed to Brutus) as ‘You too, my child?’ (in Greek), while Plutarch says that Caesar simply pulled his toga over his head in grief at seeing Brutus among the conspirators.


Sophia and Monica said...


We need with our Fun Project. Please help =D

Can we hav some time on Monday morning to do it?? Coz we need some help with the Latin sentences.

Thank u very much =D

BTW is I love you in latin: tu amor or te amo??
Strictly fun project buisness. HAHAHAHAHA

Mathea said...

Hi Mr Morrison, i hope that somewhere in your busy monday schedule you can help me to prepare/not be as likely to fail, by answering some questions :) - thanks!

(Aeneid) Section 8A:
1. (line 670) "pios,...Catonem" - do these agree or are they seperate (which is the way we translated it - "the faithful and Cato");
2. (line 652) "Tarpeiae...arcis" we translated as "Tarpeian rock" - would Tarpeian citadel be acceptable?;
3. (line 661) "duo quisque...gaesa manu" we translated as "two long alpine spears..." - what is the word for "long"? the word "longis" is in line 662 but I think it's describing "scutis". And is "quisque" what we have translates as "in the hand of each one"?

Section 6C:
1. (line 266) “non tulit…” – in this sentence does “tulit” mean endured? And which is the word for “fierce” (courage)?

These are my questions so far; no doubt there will be more to come as I revise further!
Hope you have/have had a good day, taking into consideration that you missed your yr 12 Latin classes today :).

From Mathea

Mathea said...

As expected, more questions :)

Section 2B :
(line 71) “genus amnibus unde est” we have translated as “the race from whence comes rivers” – can you please explain how we translated this? I can see that genus = race but don’t “amnibus” and “unde” refer to rivers? … I also don’t know how we got “from whence comes”…?

Section 4B:
(line 147) “nos si pellant…quin omnem…iuga mittant,” – we translated this “they believe that if they drive us away nothing will stop them from sending the heart of Itlay under the yoke”. I was wondering where “will stop them” comes from in the Latin (I’m guessing it’s been added in to help it make more sense)? Also, perhaps the “omnem” should translate as “whole heart of Italy”?

Section 5A:
1. (line 152-3) is “lumine” the word for “with his vision”?
2. (line 169) “ergo et quam petitis iuncta…dextra” – “and so my right hand… has long been joined…”, is it because iuncta is a PPP that we’ve translated it “has long been”?

Section 5B
Line 191-2 – “ how the cave stands in deserted and the bulk of the mountain has been scattered afar and the rocks speak of great ruin.” Please explain the parts in bold and also where “domus” and “traxere” come into this sentence.

(you can reply to my email or post the answers - whatever you prefer)

Thank you!!!

jm said...



pios and Catonem are separate as we have translated them. They are both objects of addit (l.666)- ie 'he adds... [to his depiction on the shield] the faithful and [he draws our attention to one of them in particular] Cato...'

Tarpeian citadel is a literal translation, Tarpeian Rock is better.

a gaesa is a long spear, so there is technically no word for long- leave it out of your translation if it confuses you.


tulit can mean to bear and therefore to endure (in a metaphorical kind of sense).

There's no word for fierce; Williams suggests 'fierce courage' is a good translation for the word animis at this point.

jm said...



unde is an adverb, meaning 'from where'- it is not related to unda, meaning 'wave'. the whole phrase is not one that's easily translated (but see Williams' note)- amnibus is (I guess) some kind of ablative or dative, and the phrase would literally mean 'the race from where it is for/with rivers', which as you can see makes no sense.


this is literally 'there will be nothing but that (quin) they will send...' 'There will be nothing to stop them from...' is a paraphrase. Your suggestion for omnem is a good one.


1. Yes. lumen literally means 'light', but can also mean light, or by association, vision.
2. 'long been' is not anywhere in the Latin, but expresses the idea that the Trojans' relationship with the Arcadians goes way back.


ut = how, domus = cave, traxere = speak of. The cave is a home because Cacus lived there- but Evander is pointing out the features of the mountain to Aeneas, it doesn't really look like a home, so I think cave is a good translation. traxere- literally the rocks have dragged down great ruin (ie in an avalanche- maybe that's a better translation, but Evander is saying that the damage Aeneas can see indicates some great catastrophe. See Williams p.241 for an alternate translation.

Mathea said...

Thanks for the explanations! I've been checking periodically during the day to see if you'd answered my questions; your comments appeared exactly when expected - period 4 and lunch time :) . By the way, thanks also for posting my previous comments, even the one including my email address ;)
See you tomorrow.
- Mathea

Sarah S said...

I really like this entry, and I have just been looking at some Latin quotes too, which is why I came here - to tell you that this is my favourite and please can you teach it to all your Latin classes:
"Beati hispani, quibus vivere bibere est"

Also, a question! Where can I get the Latin for Cicero online? I haven't been able to find it anywhere, but surely it must be available somewhere. It's Cicero, gosh!

PS: I am SO EXCITED about Latin Dinner, even though silly Julia is not going. It will be super great, and maybe I can pick up some hot rich future husbands. Yay!

Sarah S said...

Further questions:

Just in general, what is exactly (or even approximately) the purpose of asyndeton and polysyndeton?

And how does one actually spell those words?

Sarah S said...

Sorry, but I have one more:

Does "in depth, structured response to extracts from prescribed texts", which doesn't specify SEEN extracts, mean that it will be, like, part of the same text, but not one of the extracts that we have studied in class? You probably told us this already, but I must not have been listening, sorry.

Also, I thought of something I should have written in my Continuers exam about the "sus" bit - putting the two words that agree with each other at the very beginning and very end is a framing device! Which draws attention to those lines! Because they are important lines on account of the sus!!!

Also, for something I wrote "Aeneas or Hercules". But I meant to cross out one, which would have been Aeneas. So if Hercules was right, please can I have that mark? Or at least, can you please not think I am a fool, because I really didn't mean to leave two answers. This is almost as embarassing as when I said that the thing in Orpheus and Eurydice about "as many as the thousands of birds that hide themselves in the trees when night or a wintry storm drives them down from their home in the mountains" [probably that isn't even close, but it was last year, and it is one am] was a Hitchcock reference!


jm said...

Sarah, the essay (in-depth structured response) is taken from the seen texts, so you don't need to worry about that. Don't worry about anything you wrote in your continuers exam- it's too late to change any of it, and the things you mentioned are important, but won't change your overal mark (not that i've marked it)- remember it's the overall quality of your answers that count, not whether you put a particular detail in, or left it out.

jm said...


here are some sites that have some good information on Cicero and Stoicism.