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Today in History: Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon and a phrase is born

Today in History: Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon and a phrase is born

It is believed that the 10th of January 49 BC, marked the date when Julius Caesar crossed the river Rubicon – an event in history which laid the roots for the phrase still used today, namely “Crossing the Rubicon”. It is a phrase which even P.W. Botha, “Die Groot Krokodil”, used in his Durban speech in August of 1985.

By definition, the phrase refers to crossing a point of no return, an understanding which suits the relevant historical event well.

Julius Caesar, having worked his way up the ranks to governor of Gaul, was feared by the Senate in Rome in seeing him as a possible threat. He was subsequently asked to resign and disband his forces.

In response, Caesar would march with a single legion at his side towards Rome. However, ahead lay the river Rubicon.

Roman law at the time stated that a general may not cross the river with an army as it would be interpreted as an action against the state.

Therefore, upon crossing the Rubicon, Caesar had set foot over the point of no return and had sent the Roman Republic into a state of civil war. He has been widely believed to have uttered the words “the die is cast!” upon crossing that symbolic river.  

Julius Caesar would march on victorious and  eventually take Rome, laying the foundations for the Roman Empire. 


IMAGE: www.etc.usf.edu