Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Historical Meme - Chris

Chemist tagged me with this one and I've been putting it off, but here goes. The rules -

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. List 7 random/weird things about your favorite historical figure.
3. Tag seven more people at the end of your blog and link to theirs.
4. Let the person know they have been tagged by leaving a note on their blog.

Forget all the tagging. Especially since Chemist already tagged pretty much everyone I know in blogland. If you read this and haven't done it, feel free. And leave a link.

I don't really have one favorite historical figure. For this exercise, I'll pick Julius Caesar.

1. As a young man, he was forced into hiding to avoid being killed in Sulla's proscriptions.
2. He's rumored to have had an affair with King Nicomedes of Bythynia.
3. He was kidnapped by pirates for ransom. He later raised a fleet, hunted the pirates down and crucified them.
4. He had a long-term affair with Cleopatra.
5. He had seizures which have been speculated to be eplieptic.
6. He was not born by cesarean section, although that was rumored even during his life.
7. According to Suetonius, his last words were 'και συ τεκνον?', not 'Et tu, Brute?'. This is Greek for "you, too, child?". Educated Romans often spoke Greek rather than Latin.

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15 comments:

The Disgruntled Chemist said...

He was kidnapped by pirates for ransom. He later raised a fleet, hunted the pirates down and crucified them.

Wow, that's some badass revenge right there.

Chris Howard said...

Wow, that's some badass revenge right there.

No shit. Apparently, he told the pirates he was going to do this while they were holding him, but they thought he was joking.

Anonymous said...

Joking about their crucifixion?

Chris Howard said...

Joking about their crucifixion?

I think joking about getting revenge in general.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose the pirates thought that Caesar, being outnumbered and also so young, would be unable to get revenge? Also, how could young Caesar possibly have the authority to order the crucifixion of pirates? Or did he simply turn them over to the Roman military authorities?

Chris Howard said...

According to Plutarch - When these men at first demanded of him twenty talents for his ransom, he laughed at them for not understanding the value of their prisoner, and voluntarily engaged to give them fifty. He presently despatched those about him to several places to raise the money, till at last he was left among a set of the most bloodthirsty people in the world, the Cilicians, only with one friend and two attendants. Yet he made so little of them, that when he had a mind to sleep, he would send to them, and order them to make no noise. For thirty-eight days, with all the freedom in the world, he amused himself with joining in their exercises and games, as if they had not been his keepers, but his guards. He wrote verses and speeches, and made them his auditors, and those who did not admire them, he called to their faces illiterate and barbarous, and would often, in raillery, threaten to hang them. They were greatly taken with this, and attributed his free talking to a kind of simplicity and boyish playfulness. As soon as his ransom was come from Miletus, he paid it, and was discharged, and proceeded at once to man some ships at the port of Miletus, and went in pursuit of the pirates, whom he surprised with their ships still stationed at the island, and took most of them. Their money he made his prize, and the men he secured in prison at Pergamus, and he made application to Junius, who was then governor of Asia, to whose office it belonged, as praetor, to determine their punishment. Junius, having his eye upon the money, for the sum was considerable, said he would think at his leisure what to do with the prisoners, upon which Caesar took his leave of him, and went off to Pergamus, where he ordered the pirates to be brought forth and crucified; the punishment he had often threatened them with whilst he was in their hands, and they little dreamt he was in earnest.

So, if we believe Plutarch (Suetonius recalls a similar incident in less detail), he basically took the law into his own hands.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the full citation. From the description, it seems that young Caesar was planning his assault on the pirate camp during his captivity. After his release, Caesar immediately put this plan into operation (even obtaining ships at Miletus). It seems he wanted to act quickly, before the pirates would have an opportunity to escape from their camp. The outcome was exactly as he had planned, and you have to admire his tactical skill. Do you suppose this is an early example of the military genius that Caesar displayed several year later?

Chris Howard said...

Do you suppose this is an early example of the military genius that Caesar displayed several year later?

No question, not to mention the drive he had to succeed.

michelline said...

Caesar was truly considered to be "The First Man in Rome" of his time. Even at a young age, he was a mover and a shaker. He became the Pontifex Maximus at a VERY young age. The Julius family was practically Roman royalty and the Julii were highly respected. His downfall came because being the First Man amongst his equals was no longer enough for him and he began to believe he had no equals. So they took him down.

michelline said...

Re Cleopatra - tradition states they had a son together - Caesarion - that Octavian (Augustus) had killed. The Cleo/Caesar love affair began when Cleopatra was delivered to Caesar rolled up in a carpet. Naked.

Chris Howard said...

Cleopatra was delivered to Caesar rolled up in a carpet. Naked.

Thats sounds like fun. We have a carpet in the library...

michelline said...

Thats sounds like fun. We have a carpet in the library...

I think her carpet was a bit larger and that she was a bit smaller. That might have to wait until after the surgery :)

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