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The Ides of March: Caesar words

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March 15, 2004, 08:37
The Ides of March: Caesar words
Julius Caesar died on this date in 44 B.C. In his honor, a whole week of words related to Julius Caesar or the caesars generally.

Caesarism - govenment by imperial authority, recognizing no other law as a check upn the ruler’s will; political absolutism; dictatorship

Republicans held the presidency for all of but twelve of the forty years prior to 1992. As a result, conservatives became fixated on the presidency and opportunistically adopted the vocabulary of watery Caesarism, arguing that social progress is a measure of, because it is a consequence of, presidential aptitude.
- George Will, Jan. 28, 1999, reprinted in With a Happy Eye But ... America and the World, 1997-2002

March 15, 2004, 12:35
C J Strolin
"The Ides of March" was also a rock group from the early 1970s whose one hit was called "Vehicle." Shortly after this song hit the charts, the whole group was busted for drugs and given a choice by a judge - 4 years in prison or 4 years in the armed forces; they chose the latter. I was stationed with the bass player in 1972.

(just in case you were interested...)
March 15, 2004, 14:01
In March, July, October, May
The Ides fall on the 15th day.

Just in case anyone is interested in the Roman calendar...

Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
March 15, 2004, 19:09
Robert Arvanitis
A brief check of National Geographic site confirms the Roman practice, that interest was due on the kalends. It seems that for most folks, the kalends were more dire than the ides.

By the way, might we say that Julius was the first holey Roman Emperor?

March 15, 2004, 22:52
cognomen – 1. the family name of an of ancient Rome (the typical example is the "Caesar" in Gaius Julius Caesar); more generally, a surname 2. a descriptive nickname or epithet
Butler distributed Union rations to the poor and inaugurated an extensive public works progam financed in part by high takes on the rich and confiscation of the property of some wealthy rebels who refused to take the oath of allegiance. These procedures earned the general another Confederate cognomen - "Spoons" Butler - for allegedly stealing southerners' silver for the enrichment of himself and his Yankee friends.
– James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States)

March 16, 2004, 05:31
Robert Arvanitis
It seems even the Romans "kept up with the Jones.."

(n.) An additional or fourth name given by the Romans, on account of some remarkable exploit or event; as, Publius Caius Scipio Africanus.
(n.) An additional name, or an epithet appended to a name; as, Aristides the Just.

Imagine a scold telling a spouse, "How come so-and-so has FOUR names, while we have to scrape by on just three?"

March 16, 2004, 06:22
By default, the Romans had three names: prænomen, nomen, and cognomen. The prænomen was like our first name, except that it came from a limited set of prænomina (e.g., Caius, Lucius, Marcus, Publius). the nomen was the gentile name. The gens was an extended family or clan. Some nomina were patrician and others plebian. (Romans also had tribes (tribus) but this affiliation didn't really show up in the naming system.) In the earlier years of the Republic, these were also limited: (e.g., Claudius, Julius). The cognomen helped distinguish families within the gens. It was common to add an agnomen to distinguish two people whose three common names were the same. Sometimes agnomina were added because of something somebody had done, e.g., Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, so-called because he defeated Hannibal (Phonoecian 'grace of Ba'al).
March 16, 2004, 23:16
rubicon – a line which, one that when crossed, marks an irrevocabe commitment person to a dangerous enterprise
[Latin Rubicon-, Rubico, river of northern Italy forming part of the boundary between Cisalpine Gaul and Italy, whose crossing by Julius Caesar in 49 B.C. was regarded by the Senate as an act of war]

I knew I had everything to gain and nothing to lose by giving up the job I despised. I wasn't interested in making a lot of money, but I was interested in making a lot of living. In short, I had come to the rubicon - to that moment of decision which faces most young people when they start out in life. So I made my decision-and that decision completely altered my future.
- Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

March 17, 2004, 22:42
double comparative; double superlative – a construction like Your cooking is more tastier than my mother’s, with more or more intensifing an adjective/adverb that is already comparative or superlative. Eighteenth-century grammarians made this usage taboo, and today's Standard English allows only one comparison per adjective.

But before that time the construction was perfectly standard as an emphasis. Caesar's death gives an example.
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel:
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart
- Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act III scene 2

March 18, 2004, 05:11
Robert Arvanitis
Interesting note on double superlatives brings to mind a thought on "grade inflation" for adjectives. I believe the series "near, nearer, nearest" actually began once with "nigh." Thus our current inflated superlative is actually "nigher-er-est."

(Which only counts in horseshoes, grenades and bocce.)

March 18, 2004, 21:54
wordcrafter: double comparative: Eighteenth-century grammarians made this usage taboo

Not quite. The word lesser is a double comparative. In verifying this I found that Johnson called it "a barbarous corruption of less, formed by the vulgar from the habit of terminating comparatives in -er."
March 19, 2004, 06:49
princeps - chief, headman;
also, first edition of book (unusally in the phrase editio princeps)

Princeps (first citizen) was the original official title of a Roman Emperor. It was first given to the Emperor Augustus in 23 BC, to avoid the bad associations of the previous titles dictator or imperator.
Labour MPs, most of whom lacked public-school educations, object to classical phrases in the House of the very sensible reason that they couldn't understand them. During a discussion of this Churchill rose to a point and began, "As to the chairman of this committee, he should be not facile princeps, but primus inter pares, which for the benefit of any . . ." He paused while the Opposition MPs, anticipating insult, struggled to their feet. Then he broke up the House by continuing, "... for the benefit of any Old Etonians present, I should, if very severely pressed, venture to translate."
– William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932
facile princeps
- easily the first; by far the first; admittedly best
primus inter pares - first among equals

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Fri Mar %79, 2004 at 07:00.]
March 19, 2004, 20:31
I'm reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. It uses "princeps" to comment on Carolus Linnaeus, who devised our system for classifying plants, animals, and other life.
Rarely has a man been more comfortable with his own greatness. He spent much of his leisure time penning long and flattering portraits of himself, declaring that there had never "been a greater botanist or zoologist," and that his system of classification was 'the greatest achievement in the realm of science." Modestly he suggested that his gravestone should bear the inscription Princeps Botanicorum, 'Prince of Botanists.' It was never wise to question his generous self-assessments. Those who did so were apt to find weeds named after them.

March 19, 2004, 22:05
caesar cipher – a cipher in which each letter is replaced by the one a fixed number of positions farther in the alphabet. (For example, one where A, B, C, D, etc. are respectively changed to J, K, L, M, etc.)

A cipher, in turn, is any a method of transforming the letters of a text to conceal its meaning, either by transposing the letters or substituting. (Contrast code, where the pre-arranged word-or-symbol stands for an entire word or phrase.)

A caesar cipher is a simple form of substitution cipher, where the letters of the text are replaced by substitute letters, without transposing them.

It is said that Julius Caesar use a caeser cipher, where the plaintext letter was replaced by the ciphertext three places down the alphabet. Thus each letter in the text (blue below) is changed to the corresponding letter in red under it.

A B C D E F G H I. J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
D E F G H I. J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Fri Mar %79, 2004 at 22:13.]
March 21, 2004, 09:56
triumvirate – a commission or ruling body of three persons (triumvir – a member of a triumvirate)
[L. trium virum, of three men]
His party was the Brotherhood of Brothers,
And there were more of them than of the others;
That is, they constituted the minority,
Which formed the greater part of the majority.
Within the party, he was of the faction
That was supported by the greater fraction,
And in each group, within each group, he sought
The group that could command the most support.
The final group had finally elected
A triumvirate most of them respected.
Now, of the three, two had the final word,
Because the two could overrule the third.
One of the two was relatively weak,
So one alone stood at the final peak.
He was the greater member of the pair
That formed the most part of the three that were
Elected by the most of those whose boast
It was to represent the most of most
Of most of most of the entire state –
Or of the most of it, at any rate.
He never gave himself a moment's slumber,
But sought the welfare of the greatest number,
And all the people everywhere they went
Knew to their cost exactly what it meant
To be dictated to by the majority.
But that meant nothing. They were the minority.
- Piet Hein

March 21, 2004, 13:36
Fits nicely with what I call our first 3 Brits to join Wordcraft: The British Triumvirate, consisting of arnie, Bob Hale, and Richard English! Cool