Thursday, January 10, 2013
January 10, 49 BCE, is understood to be the date on which an ambitious Julius Caesar led his army across the River Rubicon, which separated Roman-controlled northeastern Italy from the province of Gaul, and instantly began the Civil War against his rivals Pompey, elected consuls and the Senate. Caesar’s 10 years of successful campaigns in Gaul (France and Germany) and Hibernia (Britain) had made him wildly popular. Crossing the Rubicon without surrendering his “imperium” (command) was a supreme act of insurrection – and a risky gamble. Historian Suetonius tells us Caesar uttered the words “Alea iacta est” ("The die has been cast"), meaning he was now irrevocably committed to his quest for power and could not turn back. Romans were avid gamblers, so dice were common objects. Pictured: Ancient Roman dice in lapis lazuli, carnelian and bone.