Friday, 10 January 2020

ālea iacta est

According to Roman historian Suetonius, General Gaius Julius Caesar led one legion to ford the Rubicon (perhaps) on this day in 49 BC and cross into the home province of Italia (previously) in contravention to the conventions of imperium and would launch the civil war (Bello Civili) that transformed the Roman Republic into an empire governed by an absolute monarchy.
In modern parlance a metaphor for committing an irrevocable act and breaching the point of no return, it is said that Caesar, having contemplated his advance and its repercussions before going forward, proclaimed the above—that the die had been cast as he led his army. As the boundaries of Caesar’s bailiwick, his military command were subsequently redrawn when his predecessor Octavian merged the province of Cisalpine Gaul (see also) with Italia and the river presently bearing the name is in Ravenna, historians are not sure exactly what watercourse was the original Rubicon but given how intensified agriculture and associated landscaping during the high Middle Ages harnessed and turned many rivers, it could well be one and the same.