…Caesar overtook his advanced guard at the river Rubicon, which formed the frontier between Gaul and Italy. Well aware how critical a decision confronted him, he turned to his staff, remarking:
`We may still draw back but, once across that little bridge, we shall have to fight it out’.
As he stood, in two minds, an apparition of superhuman size and beauty was seen sitting on the river bank playing a reed pipe. A party of shepherds gathered around to listen and, when some of Caesar’s men broke ranks to do the same, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran down to the river, blew a thunderous blast, and crossed over. Caesar exclaimed:
`Let us accept this as a sign from the Gods, and follow where they beckon, in vengeance on our double-dealing enemies. The die is cast.’
–Tranquilius on Julius Caesar, 31-32
“The die is cast” is one of the most famous Latin quotes — alea jacta est — but really it’s the rest of the quote that caught my attention. Honestly I could not focus on this homework reading last night, but today it’s fascinating. I think I was exhausted from all the physical effort from yesterday. I find myself wondering about Tranquilius. At this point I think he was a supporter of Caesar, a member of the Populus party. I was wondering last night, but today I’m certain. Look at this quote. If he did not think that Caesar’s invasion of Rome was blessed by the gods, why would he depict a beautiful supernatural being leading Caesar to Rome? Keep in mind that in Roman times, beauty equalled goodness.
It’s just such an odd anecdote. I’m surprised I’ve never read it before.