Alea Iacta Est

Roman historian Suetonius writes in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars that Gaius Julius Caesar spoke these words as he (and his Legion) crossed the river Rubicon on January the 10th. Alea iacta est, that is: “The die is cast.”

Caesar is purported to have spoken some variation of this phrase, even as his own actions precipitated a chain of events that ended with him upon the throne of Rome. A sentiment that seems to pass off one`s own deliberate choices as being mere manifestations of chance and happenstance.

I spoke with my students of this, talking of the life of Caesar – his meteoric rise and ignominious fall from grace. My hope was to draw parallels between this conspicuous example of a man`s hubris and the same way of thinking which pervades much of modern youth – that whatever befalls them somehow occurs independent of their own actions, words, and decisions; thus absolving them of responsibility.

Discussion on such matters is typically easily flowing, as the children are passionate about ideas and hungry to understand, but ill-trained to really see the ends of many of their thoughts and impulses. Their vapid culture has ingratiated an ethos of perpetual victimhood and Moral Relativism has sabotaged the low-glowing embers of consequences and justice that reside within the mind of a child. Replaced with the perverse inconsistencies of Humanism.

We talk these things through and, after much winnowing away of sludge and foul-smelling dark matter, warmth and light begins to emerge – like a mud-sodden branch pulled from a dank bog that has been cleaned and dried in the Sunlight, ready for kindling.

However, just as we are ready to sink our teeth into the marrow of the matter, a bell tolls a new hour. The students hurry to the next period, to the next appointment, to the next distraction. I slowly clench my fists in a secret gesture of glacial patience and smile inside for the next opportunity.

Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo.


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