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Never tease a haruspex on the Ides of March

March 15, 2011 @ 13:13 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Current affairs

Gaius Julius Caesar learned a valuable lesson on the 15h of March in 44BC: Never tease a haruspex.

Titus Vestricius Spurinna, an Etruscan haruspex (a soothsayer or astrologer), warned Caesar a week or two before his death that some danger would befall him no later than the Ides of March. The 15th of March arrived, so Caesar couldn’t leave well enough along and resist teased Spurinna saying “The Ides of March are come”, to which Spurinna replied “Yes, they are come, but they are not past.”

Unfortunately for Julius Caesar, Spruinna’s prediction came true later in the day when he was assassinated by a group of senators shortly before he was due to appear at a session of the Senate. Among the group of assassins was his friend Brutus Albinus. Shakespeare’s version of the assassination has him utter the phrase “Et tu, Brute?”, though other possibly more reliable reports have him saying either “καὶ σύ, τέκνον?” (Greek for “You too, child?”) or nothing at all.

Happy birthday to one of my very good friends, who celebrates her birthday on the anniversary of the death of Julius Caesar. 🙂

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