Friday 27 September 2019

Render unto Caesar

What do you know about [Julius] Caesar?
I doubt if even half of these Everybody Knows statements are true. The Caesarian section is notably dodgy because Caesar's mother lived for 46 years after her boy was delivered and it is barely credible that she would have survived the microbiological edge-case of abdominal surgery in 100 BCE. It is more likely that the family name Caesar was acquired when a mother and ancestor of the Great Man was sacrificed to save a full term baby boy. The cognomen being derived from the passive past participle of the Latin verb caedo, caedere, cecidi, caesum which means cut, hack, fell or kill depending on context. Grammarians will know that the four parts recorded for Latin verbs are 1. first person singular present active indicative, 2. the infinitive, 3. the first person singular perfect active indicative, and 4. the supine or the perfect passive participle. If you know those you can work out the endings of all the other verb forms.

We've met this brutal word before when, at the end of the seige of Béziers in 1209, Arnaud-Amaury, victorious Abbot of Cîteaux, instructed "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" [Kill them all, for the Lord knows his own]

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