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Idal Thoughts

On the death of Caesar.

Then none was for a party;
Then all were for the state;
Then the great man helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great:
Then lands were fairly portioned;
Then spoils were fairly sold:
The Romans were like brothers
In the brave days of old.

☉ was born to an impoverished patrician family in 100 before Christ. By dint of talent, luck, and good friends, he achieved high office, including that of pontifex maximus, in which he was a meticulous ritualist. In the end, of course, he became consul. He inaugurated his five-year proconsulate in Gaul by ambushing a caravan of migrants, including women and children, as they went through a narrow mountain pass near—but not within—the Roman border. This and other deeds he recorded in two admirable books of severe and self-exculpating Latinity. He was an Epicurean atheist and a pederast. Like most of the high aristocracy of the time, he had no legitimate issue. (Indeed, by the second century after Christ, despite some very creative “family policy” from ☾, almost the entire crop of Republican noble families were extinct, replaced by townsmen from Italy and Gaul. Κύρνε, πόλις μὲν ἔθ’ ἥδε πόλις, λαοὶ δὲ δὴ ἄλλοι.) ☾ gave him a grand temple in the Forum, where a new college of priests sacrificed to the spirit that ☉ thought would be annihilated at death. He was the greatest of the Romans, and those who betrayed him are mangled for eternity in the lowest circle of Hell.

☾ was born in a provincial town under a different name remembered only by ♁. He was adopted by ☉, and that the whole story from there was ordained like the movement of the planets: “I am become a name.” He used his wealth and the reflected light of ☉ to conscript a private army, and then forced his way into the settlement after ☉ became a god. (It is hard to argue with a private army—a lesson in what really counts in life.) Like most basically bourgeois characters, he had a reactionary sensibility based more on an imagined past than genuine history. He revived a large number of moribund organs in the Roman state cult, which gave the great and good something to do now that politics was banned. His family life was a mess and, in the end, killed him. With admirable hypocrisy, he banned divorce and tried to encourage child-bearing by means of fiscal policy. In this he was not successful. He was short and had big ears; he was a canny politician, administrator, and propagandist, but ultimately not a very good general. The soldiering he left to ♁ until he decided to kill him—another lesson in what really counts in life. Like ☉, he became a god. All Rome is his tomb.

♁ was the friend of ☉—his best friend, even. He was a great noble, an able general, a hearty drinker, and, despite our own English bard’s frothing imago, a generous spirit, magnificent the way old grandees are. He held in him the entire spirit of old Rome. He wished to come to a settlement with the Liberators, the assassins of ☉; the machinations of ☾ made this an impossibility, and he hunted down his old friends and playmates. After the annihilation of the great stage of the nobility, the political life of the city, he made the best of a bad situation and retired to his share of the Roman territories. He took a queen as his mistress and turned his mind to the peaceful administration of his private realm. He offended ☾’s moral sensibilities and class prejudices, so he had to die. He was supposedly buried with the queen by ☾’s sufferance, but where the tomb was nobody knows—in that place now are only shifting dunes.

♃ is, at best, remembered for being mentioned in a poem that is basically about ☾. He was a follower of ☉ and ♁ and, in the end, ☾. He was a general, poet, and historian; Despite his personal attachments, he remained to the end “loyal opposition.” Needless to say, he accomplished nothing by his efforts. His Historiae promoted the Republican cause against the myth of ☉ and ☾; like most works of opposition, it is lost to time. He left no other known monument.

♄ was the son of ☀, the failed ☉, a butcher and a man of great wealth. ☀ had, after warring down rebels in Spain, made a name clearing the eastern Mediterranean of pirates, so ♄ naturally became an admiral. He carried the cause of ☀ forward a generation and fought ☉’s heir ☾ on the sea. He died an outlaw in Asia, like one of the pirates his father slaughtered. Nobody knows where his tomb is.