An English In Kentucky


















Friday February 15th 2019Tim Candler9


    Exploring the origin and movement through time of a word does as a rule produce deeper understandings of the meaning lodged within a word, same with history and always worth remembering the role of political inclination in movements within both words and within interpretations of history. It's a wonderful and at the same daunting fluidity, sometimes a difficult area for a species for whom certainty however poorly grounded is more highly valued as a source of both mental and social stability than something like the honest truth seeking implied by the word sapiens. Which is why The Ides of March figure large in my own often pathetic attempts to come to terms with the endlessness of February. For me middle of March is called Potato planting. In the wider scheme The Ides of March had religious significance and for others its gone down in an utterance from a Roman equivalent to a representative of our own Supreme Court who according to both Plutarch and an Elizabethan playwright whispered the warning to Julius Caesar that he should Beware of the Ideas of March. The Romans were a superstitious peoples so let's not get into a huge argument around the mechanism by which we manage relationship with concepts of certainty, the entrails of Cockerels or long lists of sentences, same difference they're all seers, and it just leads to conflict, name calling, and the sort of incivility that ends badly for everyone as we try to explain ourselves to a variety of magistrates, many of whom are not yet even born and this rate might never be.



     Of the interpretations, the Elizabethan playwright had some superior asides on the characters of Cassius and Brutus. Brutus was a comfortable, fat bottomed, jovial good old boy who was doing very well for himself, probably had freckles,  and it came as a big disappointment for Caesar to see Brutus wielding a bespoke ivory handled dagger. Not so Cassius. For Caesar it came as no surprise at all to see the glint in the eye of a skinny, peaky and sneaky, short, ambitious man, who might have had slicked-back hair and kitchen carving knife. The trouble with the Elizabethan playwright and possibly Plutarch they saw Caesar as a somewhat heroic figure who was badly misunderstood by quarrelling senators who in their own self serving way might not even have been able to a pour water out of a boot. Caesar's problem was that he was an incredibly ambitious man who'd massively increased Roman Territories through military conquests, he had become rich and famous, he'd caused years of civil war by denying the traditional authority of Rome's equivalent to our very own leader of the senate as the position holder might have been thirty or seventy years ago and Caesar had a gut feeling about how inadequately the bubble in Rome had grasped the tenuous control Rome had over its territories.  His "I alone can fix this" promise appealed mightily to the populace and many of their mostly unelected representatives. Oddly, while you don't get to be powerful without being well possessed by both narcissistic and paranoid impulses, there's never been any doubt that Caesar was an entirely sane man who could both read and write long books and who had a poor view of vengeance for vengeance sake.  Tomorrow, if I'm not pummeling an emergency white ball with a club, I'll make yet one more valiant attempt to compare and contrast "Peasant Revolts" and "Stick It to Them."

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