I’m Greek, so as far as Romans go, I’m not much of a fan. But there is one who I simply cannot put down as being like ‘all the rest’.
Et tu Brute? Yeah that guy.
Despite his well-publicized death, I want to talk about his early life. Julius came from a significant, but not exceptionally wealthy family and had more than his share of hardships, in addition to becoming the dictator of the most powerful empire in Europe at the time.
When Julius was just 25 years old he traveled to Rhodes to study. While en-route his shipped was attacked and seized by Cilician pirates, who were unaware of his identity, and kidnapped him for ransom. When the young Caesar discovered that the pirates had demanded 2o talents of silver (about 620kg or 1375lbs) he became incensed, demanding they ask for more. He considered such a low request demeaning and told them to raise the ransom to 50 talents (1550 kg or 3400lbs) of silver, which they did.
The pirates dispatched several of Caesar’s companions to fetch the ransom, leaving Julius mostly alone. But did he cower and wait for the payment? Not in the slightest. Reports from other captives later claimed that Caesar all but bullied the pirate captors the entire time, at one point even demanding that he not be disturbed at night because he needed his rest. During the day he made them listen to poetry and speeches he composed, directed them in their chores and daily routines, and even exercised as well as played games with his captors. Collecting the ransom took forty days and there is no disputing that by the time it was paid most of the pirates treated him more as their superior than their hostage. Some later claimed to greatly respect him, despite his young age.
At his release Julius informed the pirates that while they had joy, fun, and a season in the sun, he did not appreciate the whole captivity thing and he planned to hunt them all down and have them crucified. Apparently none believed a private citizen had this sort of clout, so when he arrived a year later with a private fleet he hired, he captured them quite easily and reclaimed his silver.
After their capture he did follow through, as a man of his word and got the authorities in Pergamon to find them guilty and execute the entire lot. Moments before the crucifictions, however, Julius showed a modicum of compassion and slit all their throats to ease their suffering, rather than the hours or days it would take to die on their crosses.
What a soft-hearted guy. I suppose that summer frolicking in the summer Med with them meant more to him than maybe he let on.
Interesting fact about his death. Sixty senators plotted against Caesar to kill him and they all agreed to stab him so none would be able to determine who made the actual kill. When his body was examined post-mortem, Caesar was found to be wounded by twenty-three stab wounds. Of those, only one was actually a killing blow.
That means barely a third of the people who signed up, actually did what they promised to do.
And of those who did do what they promised? 95% did an ineffectual job and were useless.
Let this be a reminder the next time you get forced into a group project at work or school. Because from experience? These percentages still ring true.
And finally, always remember, politicians are more always vicious and blood-thirsty than common pirates and thieves.
Until next time,
God of Hate & Jealousy
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay
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