Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March!

Well, first you have to know when that is. Here's a link explaining the calendar system if you really want to get into that. The basics: Kalends = New Moon (first crescent), Nones = Quarter moon, Ides = Full moon. Caesar was assassinated on the full moon in the month of Mars. By 60 politicians. Who had been plotting this for months.

Seriously? No one spilled the beans? Allegedly, Caesar visited with Titus Vestricius Spurinna, an Etruscan haruspex or astrologer who warned him to "beware the ides of March." The "soothsayer" of Shakespeare's play seems to be an advisor who told him that something hugely bad was about to happen to him according to the stars. Mark Antony, his second in command, allegedly found out about the plot the night before and tried to head Caesar off at the pass, but was stopped by other conspirators.

Did Caesar commit "death by senate?" Did he walk into the place knowing what was about to happen? What had been going on? Caesar had just started and won a civil war against these folks. Caesar wanted to be Dictator for Life and the Senate said no. Yeah, that worked out for them. He was appointed dictator for 10 years. He was making incredibly radical changes to the government, and consolidating it into an empire. He is said to have had plans to build a giant temple to Mars and planned a library to rival the one at Alexandria. Too bad he didn't get to those first. I guess he was too busy fixing the calendar. He also had seizures, increasing in number in the last 2 years of his life. He might have been epileptic, no one is sure. Did he know it was time to pass the torch? Had he seen his and Octavian's horoscope? Did he know how he was loved by the people and martyred himself so the senate would be abolished and his own bloodline continue to rule? It worked. Senate was out, Octavius (Augustus) was in. Later, res publica, howdy Empire.

According to historians of the time, Caesar didn't actually say anything besides "ow!" when he was stabbed. However, "Et tu, Brute" was already a cliche by the time Shakespeare wrote it down. Brutus was thought by some to be the illegitimate son of Julius Caesar. Funny that he chose to adopt and leave everything to his grand-nephew instead. Is that why Brutus joined in?

Anywhoo, my adventure tonight has brought me back around to one of the books I'm reading: Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia. There is a chapter dedicated to the sanctuary during this time and how Caesar came by the title, refusing to be called Rex because of the fact that the moment the hunter becomes the Rex, he is then hunted. He tried to sidestep it by taking a different title. That didn't really work out either. In the chapter I was just reviewing there is much talk of the politicking and speechifying and insults thrown down between Octavian and Mark Antony. Much of it involves bringing up Octavian's parents, who were from Aricia. Why is that a big deal? Because it was filled with foreigners: Greeks, Egyptians, Africans... Basically, Mark Antony was accusing him of being born in Kenya and not legitimate enough a citizen to be their leader. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same.

I've been enjoying the aforementioned book, but there have been even more developments in the site excavation since it was written. Have our pals Mr. Frazer, author of The Golden Bough and Virgil, author of The Aeneid, been proven right? Archaeologists have found evidence to back up their tales:

Archaeologists in Rome Link Sanctuary of Nemi to Aeneas's Golden Bough

"At the moment we're excavating, among other places, at the Sanctuary of Nemi, which is one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Lazio. It was made famous by James Frazer's The Golden Bough series of books, which begins and ends at Nemi, because it's one of the most noteworthy ancient centres of religion and culture."

"So what has the dig at Nemi actually turned up? According to Professor Coarelli, the excavators have found a stone enclosure surrounding the remains of what appear to be a large tree, which is positioned in the middle of the religious Sanctuary of Nemi. Pottery votive offerings also indicate the importance of the site and the tree."

Yay at discovery? Boo @ wtf happened to the tree? Is Aricia connected to Avalon? A connection with other Strange Women Laying in Ponds and Distributing Swords as a Government System? Man, if we hadn't lost that hour on Sunday I'd have the time to sit here and figure out how to claim the Arthurian Legends as Ancient Italian. I bet they are too! Ha! lol I'm going to bed before I get myself into more historical trouble here!

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