Caesar’s Proto-fascism


Caesar: And in Rome, Marc Antony is to speak for Caesar. His authority is not to be questioned.

Canidius: His word will be yours. As always, Caesar’s word is law.

Caesar: Of course. But remind him to keep his legions intact. They make the law legal.

– Wanger. W. (Producer), Mankiewicz. J.L. (Director). (1963). Cleopatra [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century-Fox

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Leap Day Trivia


Throughout the ages, the leap day, or the 29th of February, has driven people from all over the world to rather odd behaviour – for one reason or another. Here is a selection of curious or special leap day related facts:

  • Julius Caesar introduced the first leap year around 46 BCE.
  • In Ireland, February 29 is called Bachelor’s Day, when women are allowed to propose to men. It is held that Queen Margaret of Scotland began the tradition in 1288. If a man refused the proposal, he would be fined a kiss, a silk dress or 12 pairs of gloves.
  • One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. They believe it is bad luck.
  • In Taiwan, married daughters traditionally return home during the leap month as it is believed the lunar month can bring bad health to parents. Daughters bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and good fortune.
  • In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman’s proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt.
  • According to the BBC, the chances of having a birthday on a leap day are about one in 1,461.
  • According to the New York Daily News, in modern times, at least two women have given birth to three leap day babies.
  • The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies is a club for people born on the 29th of February. More than 10,000 people worldwide are members.
  • On February 29, 1946, in Tokyo, the February 26 Incident ends.
  • In France, since 1980, a satirical newspaper entitled La Bougie du Sapeur is published only in a leap year, on February 29, making it a quadrennial publication and the least frequently published newspaper in the world.
  • On February 29, 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first black woman to win an Oscar. She was awarded for her role in Gone With the Wind.
  • According to the World Heritage Encyclopaedia, the eighth premier of Tasmania, James Milne Wilson, was born in 1812 and died in 1880, both on February 29.

Frasier: Yeah dad, you should go.
Martin: Ah, Montana’s too far away.
Frasier: Well dad, his birthday only comes around once every four years. As a matter of fact, this day only comes around every four years. You know, it’s like a free day, a gift. We should do something special, be bold!  It’s leap year, take a leap!
Martin: You know, I was just about to say the same thing to you.
[…]
Frasier: Dad, Jimmy’s already sixteen. How many more birthdays is he going to have?
Martin: [smiles] You know, I would kind of hate not being there when Jimmy brings out the big ham.
Frasier Season 3, Episode 16; “Look Before You Leap” [No. 66]

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?


‘To get to the other side’ is a bit too simplistic. So, to remedy that, here are a number of interesting and more original replies to this famous – and surprisingly old – anti-humour riddle joke:

‘There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, but yet are none. Of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?’ – The Knickerbocker, or The New York Monthly, March 1847, p. 283

Douglas Adams: 42.

Aristotle: To actualize its potential. It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

Julius Caesar: To come, to see, to conquer.

Howard Cosell: It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an Herculean achievement formerly relegated to Homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurrence.

Salvador Dali: A melting fish.

Charles Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees. After all, chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.

Jacques Derrida: What is the difference? The chicken was merely deferring from one side of the road to other. And how do we get the idea of the chicken in the first place? Does it exist outside of language? Also, any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is dead.

Rene Descartes: It had sufficient reason to believe it was dreaming anyway.

Bob Dylan: How many roads must one chicken cross?

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Epicurus: For pleasure.

Michel Foucault: It did so because the discourse of crossing the road left it no choice – the police state was oppressing it.

Sigmund Freud: The chicken was obviously female and obviously interpreted the pole on which the crosswalk sign was mounted as a phallic symbol of which she was envious, selbstverständlich. However, the fact that you are at all concerned about why the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Stephen Jay Gould: It is possible that there is a sociobiological explanation for it, but we have been deluged in recent years with sociobiological stories despite the fact that we have little direct evidence about the genetics of behaviour, and we do not know how to obtain it for the specific behaviours that figure most prominently in sociobiological speculation.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Heraclitus: A chicken cannot cross the same road twice.

Adolf Hitler: It needed Lebensraum.

David Hume: Out of custom and habit.

Doug Hofstadter: To seek explication of the correspondence between appearance and essence through the mapping of the external road-object onto the internal road-concept.

James Joyce: To forge in the smithy of its soul the uncreated conscience of its race.

Carl Jung: The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Immanuel Kant: Because it would have this be a universal law.

Martin Luther King: It had a dream.

Gottfried von Leibniz: In this best possible world, the road was made for it to cross.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained. In any case, the end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.

Karl Marx: To escape the bourgeois middle-class struggle. It was a historical inevitability.

Sir Isaac Newton: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross the road.

Moses: And the LORD spake unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.” And the chicken crossed the road.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

B.F. Skinner: Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while believing these actions to be of its own free will.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The chicken, sunlight coruscating off its radiant yellow- white coat of feathers, approached the dark, sullen asphalt road and scrutinized it intently with its obsidian-black eyes. Every detail of the thoroughfare leapt into blinding focus: the rough texture of the surface, over which countless tires had worked their relentless tread through the ages; the innumerable fragments of stone embedded within the lugubrious mass, perhaps quarried from the great pits where the Sons of Man laboured not far from here; the dull black asphalt itself, exuding those waves of heat which distort the sight and bring weakness to the body; the other attributes of the great highway too numerous to give name. And then it crossed it.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Kurt Vonnegut: There is no “why”, there only “is”. So it goes.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The possibility of “crossing” was encoded into the objects “chicken” and “road”, and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

Zeno of Elea: To prove it could never reach the other side.

Julius Caesar (act III scene ii)


Marc Anthony [to the citizens]

‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones:
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,—
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honorable men,—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once,—not without cause:
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?—
judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason!—Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.’

– Reed International Books Ltd. 1992. The Illustrated Stratford Shakespeare London, Great Britain: Chancellor Press (1996) p. 765-766

Parallelism


In rhetoric, parallelism involves the juxtaposition of two or more identical or equivalent syntactic constructions, especially those expressing the same sentiment with slight modifications, introduced for rhetorical effect.

Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar in the National Ar...

Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar

In short, parallelism means giving two or more parts of the sentences a similar form so as to give the whole a definite pattern.

Parallelisms of various sorts are the chief rhetorical device of Biblical poetry in Hebrew. In fact, Robert Lowth coined the term parallelismus membrorum (parallelism of members, i.e. poetic lines) in his 1788 book, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrew Nation.

In addition, Chinese poetry uses parallelism in its first form. In a parallel couplet not only must the content, the parts of speech, the mythological and historical and geographical allusions, be all separately matched and balanced, but most of the tones must also be paired reciprocally. Even tones are conjoined with inflected ones, and vice versa.

Examples of parallelism include:

“Veni, vidi, vici.” (I came, I saw, I conquered)
– Julius Caesar

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessing; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
– Churchill

“But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”
– Amos

“We charge him with having broken his coronation-oath – and we are told that he kept his marriage-vow! We accuse him of having given up his people to the merciless inflictions of the most hard-hearted of prelates – and the defence is that he took his little son on his knee and kissed him. We censure him for having violated the Petition of Right – and we are informed that he was accustomed to hear prayers at six o’clock in the morning.”
– Macaulay

October


October is the tenth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with a length of thirty-one days. The eighth month in the old Roman calendar, October retained its name from the Latin ‘octo’ meaning ‘eight’ after July and August, after Julius and Augustus Caesar respectively, when the calendar was originally created by the Romans.

October is commonly associated with the season of autumn in the Northern hemisphere and spring in the Southern hemisphere, where it is the seasonal equivalent to April in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

In common years January starts on the same day of the week as October, but no other month starts on the same day of the week as October in leap years. October ends on the same day of the week as February every year and January in common years only.