Saturday, April 24, 2010

Caesar crossing the Rubicon

Caesar-Crossing-the-Rubicon ‘Caesar Crossing the Rubicon,’ by Jean Louis Gerome

A piece of poetic prose for Anzac Weekend; from a famous account of Julius Caesar’s seizing of Rome by his soldiery, at the point his coup was made irrevocable—the crossing of the river beyond which Rome’s armies were hitherto forbidden by a long-standing law.

     _quote How swiftly Caesar had surmounted the icy Alps and in his mind conceived immense upheavals, coming war.
    “When he reached the water of the little Rubicon, clearly to the leader through the murky night appeared a mighty image of his country in distress; grief in her face, her white hair streaming from her tower- crowned head. With tresses torn and shoulders bare, she stood before him in sighing, said: ‘Where further do you march? Where do you take my standards warriors? If lawfully you come if as citizens, this far only is allowed.’ 
    “Then trembling struck the leader's limbs, his hair grew stiff and weakness checked his progress, holding his feet at the river's edge. At last he speaks. ‘Oh thunderer… surveying great Rome's walls from the Tarpeian Rock. Oh Phrygian, house gods of lulus, clan and mysteries of Quirinus who was carried off to heaven. Oh, Jupiter of Latium seated in lofty Alba and hearths of Vesta. Oh, Rome, equal to the highest deity, favour my plans! Not with impious weapons do I pursue you. Here am I, Caesar, conqueror of land and sea, your own soldier everywhere now too if I am permitted. The man who makes me your enemy, it is he will be the guilty one.’
     “Then he broke the barriers of war and through the swollen river swiftly took his standards. When Caesar crossed the flood and reached the opposite bank from Hesperia's forbidden fields, he took his stand and said: ‘Here I abandoned peace and desecrated law. Fortune, it is you I follow. Farewell to treaties, from now on war is our judge.’
     “Hail Caesar. We who are about to die salute you.”

            -Chronicle from Marcus Lucanus on Julius Caesar's crossing of the River Rubicon.



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