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Join Date: 26 Aug 2002
Location: Deep East Texas
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What to do when the worst happens


“And you, too, my child?” were the words Julius Caesar was reported to have said when he recognized the man he had long mentored among the band of assassins attacking him. Others report that Caesar said nothing at all, that he only grunted at the first dagger thrust. First he tried to fight back; then he tried to run until he tripped and fell. With neither defense nor escape possible, witnesses say, he maintained stoic silence under repeated dagger blows until he was no more. He knew it was over. And, he would have known how to behave in this circumstance: like the Senate, (which might be better translated as the Council of Elders since “senate” is derived from the word, “old,”) assassination was also a Roman tradition.

Caesar was killed on the steps leading to the porch attached to a theatre where the senate sometimes met. Some sixty men participated in the slaying. No question but that his life was ended and with consequences to follow. These must be sorted out. In the Maat, he has been removed to a mausoleum whose clerestory windows make it seem rather like a dungeon. Beneath him lies his toga, bloodstained and edged in purple. His left arm, out flung, points to a tomb whose decoration depicts the theme of traditional Roman family values. His right arm lies in the opposite direction toward a blank tomb marked with impressive blood spattering. On the far wall an oblong area of light appears. This area, and not the corpse, is more or less the focus of the room’s perspective.

So let us also focus our attention there and see if we can gain perspective. The oblong of light, if it is natural in origin, would seem to come from a high window behind the viewer. The sunlight shining through this window produces an elongated shape possibly because the light enters at a horizontal as well as a vertical angle. Which way will the sunlight travel: to the right toward traditional Roman values or to the left toward an unknown but bloody future? Will the Julian gens whose flower was Gaius Julius Caesar be obliterated or will it rebound and flourish? Which archway leads to the exit? Having historical perspective, we know that the Roman Senate continued but as a marginalized institution much like the House of Lords which it somewhat resembled. And we know that Julius Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, became Augustus Caesar, the first true Emperor of Rome. Both of these eventualities were precipitated by the very assassination that was designed to prevent them.

But what of personal tragedies? It’s hard to gain any sort of perspective when ones best laid plans and policies dissolve into gaudy disaster. We’re so wounded, so devastated by our losses. But we must try. Divorces need not turn into murder-suicides; bankrupt companies do not have to be the death sentence of a community. Malice and public scandal become yesterday’s news. Grief will release its grip, given time, and allow us to see again beyond the walls of our prison. The ten of swords has an “ace” as well as a zero. Time is the test of these things.
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