Saturday, 8 September 2007

Requiem pour un con ... ou deux

Unmistakable signs forewarned Caesar of his assassination. A few months previously the veterans who had been sent to colonize Capua under the Julian Law were breaking up some ancient tombs in search of stone for their new farm-houses - all the more eagerly when they came across a large hoard of ancient vases. One of these tombs proved to be that of Capys, founder of the city, and there they found a bronze tablet with a Greek inscripton to this effect: 'Disturb the bones of Capys, and a man of Trojan stock wiill be murderd by his kindred, and later avenged at great cost to Italy.' This story should not be dismissed as idle fiction, or a lie, beacause our authority for it is none other than Cornelius Balbus, a close friend of Caesar's.

Soon afterwards news reached Caesar that a herd of horses which he had dedicated to the river Rubicon, after fording it, and allowed to roam untended in the valley, were beginning to show a repugnance for the pasture and shedding bucketfuls of tears. Again, during a sacrifice the augur Spurinna warned Caesar that the danger threatening him would not come later than the Ides of March; and on the day before the Ides a little bird, called the King Bird, flew into the Hall of Pompey with a sprig of laurel in its beak - pursued by a swarm of different birds from a near-by copse, which tore it to pieces there and then. And on his last night Caesar dreamed that he was soaring above the clouds, and then shaking hands with Jupiter; while his wife Calpurnia dreamed that the gable ornament, resembling that of a temple, which had been one of the honours voted him by the Senate, collapsed, and there he lay stabbed in her arms! She awoke suddenly and the bedroom door burst open of its own accord.

These warning, and ill-health, made him hesitate for some time whether to go ahead with his plans, or whether to postpone the meeting. Finally Decimus Brutus persuaded him not to disappoint the Senate, who had been in full session for some time, waiting for him to arrive. It was about ten o'clock when he set off for the House. As he went, someone handed him a note containing detalis of the plot against his life, but he merely added it the bundle of petitions in his left hand, which he intended to read later. Several victims were then sacrificed, and despite consistently unfavourable omens, he entered the House, deriding Spurinna as a false prophet. 'The Ides of March have come,' he said. 'Yes, they have come,' replied Spurinna, 'but they have not yet gone.' ...

Suetonius - 'Julius Caesar'
translated by Robert Graves,
musique par Serge Gainsbourg


Anonymous said...

Poor Jane - she couldnt dance. I know the feeling. Clever post though. I wish id read it last night it suited my mood. I dont know much about Caesar (except for the Ides of March bit).I am reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (finished Mary W)

Trooper Thompson said...

She can dance better than she can sing! Bless her.