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Caesars famous words

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Caesars famous words

Postby Aug33 » Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:19 pm

"Jacta alea est" is this latin phrase the ture phrase? Does it have a historical text that it was taken from? Aug33
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Postby amans » Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:08 pm

Hi there,

Caesar did not himself report in any of his works that he uttered these famous words. But Suetonius does:


In English:

While he was thus hesitating, the following incident occurred. A person remarkable for his noble mien and graceful aspect, appeared close at hand, sitting and playing upon a pipe. When, not only the shepherds, but a number of soldiers also flocked from their posts to listen to him, and some trumpeters among them, he snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran to the river with it, and sounding the advance with a piercing blast, crossed to the other side. Upon this, Caesar exclaimed, " Let us go where the omens of the Gods and the iniquity of our enemies call us. The die is now cast."


In Latin:

cunctanti ostentum tale factum est. quidam eximia magnitudine et forma in proximo sedens repente apparuit harundine canens; ad quem audiendum cum praeter pastores plurimi etiam ex stationibus milites concurrissent interque eos et aeneatores, rapta ab uno tuba prosiliuit ad flumen et ingenti spiritu classicum exorsus pertendit ad alteram ripam. tunc Caesar: 'eatur,' inquit, 'quo deorum ostenta et inimicorum iniquitas uocat. iacta alea est,' inquit.
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Postby Adelheid » Sun Apr 17, 2005 8:11 pm

I was told it was a quote from a play (don't know title) by Menander: anerriphthô kubos, or 'let the dice be cast'.

I have no sources, although someone claims this information comes from Parallel Lives by Plutarch.

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Postby yadfothgildloc » Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:30 am

Odd. I learned it as "alea iacta est."
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Postby Adelheid » Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:40 am

I also learned the latin phrase as being "alea iacta est" (in that order). One of my university teachers slapped me on the fingers once however, because he insisted I should use "alea iacta sit", since that would be the better translation from the Greek original.



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Postby catfish » Thu May 08, 2008 11:10 am

Hi, Amans is right. The earliest account of this is definitely from Suetonius. There is no way to know if Caesar actually said it but either way it sounds good!
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sun May 11, 2008 5:11 am

"Original Greek"?
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Postby Adelheid » Sun May 11, 2008 7:26 am

What exactly is your question?
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sun May 11, 2008 1:16 pm

What in the Suetonius quote suggests that he should have said that phrase in Greek?
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Postby Adelheid » Sun May 11, 2008 2:03 pm

As I mentioned, this was suggested by Plutarch. I looked up which 'Life' it was in, and it's 'Life of Pompey', 60:

He [Caesar] declared in Greek with loud voice to those who were present 'The die has been cast' and led the army across.
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Postby cantator » Mon May 12, 2008 12:02 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:What in the Suetonius quote suggests that he should have said that phrase in Greek?


IIRC it was fashionable for the Roman aristocracy of the time to speak Greek. Again IIRC (Suetonius again?) Caesar's final words to Brutus were "Kai su teknon ?", not the better known "Et tu, Brute ?".

But you probably knew this already. :)
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Mon May 12, 2008 2:43 pm

Indeed! Good point.
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Postby catfish » Sun May 25, 2008 5:56 am

I doubt that though, as his final words were directed at the senators, to whom he would have spoken in Greek, but it seems unlikely that he would have used these famous words in Greek when they were directed at his soldiers (this is supported by Suetonius who quotes his last words in Greek and these in Latin).
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Postby Hesperado » Fri May 30, 2008 10:58 pm

Slightly off-topic, I remember learning that probably the most famous of the Caesar dicta -- veni, vidi, vici -- was probably properly pronounced:

"Wenee, Weedee, Weekee"

making it a decidedly limp-wristed proclamation.

:lol:
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Postby MiguelM » Sat May 31, 2008 12:46 am

when dealing with Suetonius' quotations it's worth noting or at least being aware of the importance of whom he quotes from. if it's something anecdotical, or fellow biographers' works, Greek would be allowed; if from historians Greek would be translated. so something may come to us as Latin (jacta alea est) but be really original Greek (although I do agree with catfish that his audience at the incident makes that unlikely).

Hesperado:
what we now write as "v" served variably regarding different graphemes and different writing arbitrarinesses. however, in classical times, during which Caesar lived, both what we now write as "u" and what we write "v" were pronounced "u".
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Postby annis » Sat May 31, 2008 12:49 am

Hesperado wrote:making it a decidedly limp-wristed proclamation.


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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat May 31, 2008 2:45 am

Indeed, Classical Latin 'v' is pronounced as English 'w', while German 'v', for the sake of contrast, is pronounced as English 'f'. It's not limp at all if you pronounce the sounds with their full, Italic quality, and not merely as if they were as English "wenee, weedee, weekee."
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