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March 15, 2017

The Ides of March: Death of an Alpha Male.

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...

--Plutarch, on young Caesar

Today is the Ides of March, death date of Gaius Julius Caesar (July 13, 100 BC-March 15, 44 BC), general, politician, schemer, explorer, writer, alpha male, womanizer, patrician and, as we begin to observe St. Patrick's day, no friend of Gaelic peoples. Grandiose, flawed, and truly great, he made Rome an empire. Caesar conquered what is now France and Belgium--and got Rome more interested in taking on an assortment of Celtic tribes in Britain after his death.

An egomaniac, he was both charming vain dandy, and a skilled military leader, with a surprising compassionate streak. A century after his death, the Greek historian Plutarch wrote an enduring bio. Plutarch even mixed it up with armchair psychoanalysis, treating Caesar's life in "parallel" with that of Alexander the Great, another wildly self-assured fellow. The term Ides of March ("March 15") has nothing to do with our hero; "ides" means middle in the earliest Roman calendar, which some say was devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.


20080925184151Julius_Caesar_Coustou.png
Nicolas Coustou, 1713, Louvre: You talking to me?

Posted by JD Hull at March 15, 2017 11:59 PM

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