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Famous last words : Caesar's prophecy on the Ides of March.

Ziogas, I. (2016) 'Famous last words : Caesar's prophecy on the Ides of March.', Antichthon., 50 . pp. 134-153.


Shakespeare’s Et tu, Brute has been influential in shaping a tradition that interprets Caesar’s last words as an expression of shock at Brutus’ betrayal. Yet this interpretation is not suggested in the ancient sources that attest the tag καὶ σύ, τέκνον (‘you too, son’). This article argues that Caesar’s dictum evokes a formula of funerary epigrams, which refers to death as the common lot of all mortals. The epitaphic connotations of καὶ σύ or tu quoque feature in epic poetry, a connection that lends a Homeric dimension to Caesar’s last words. The dictator’s oral epitaph predicts the death of Brutus as a consequence of his involvement in the assassination. It means ‘You too, son, will die’. The Greco-Roman belief that a dying man can foresee the future invests Caesar’s last words with prophetic authority.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Antichthon This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © The Australasian Society for Classical Studies 2017
Date accepted:16 August 2016
Date deposited:10 February 2017
Date of first online publication:08 February 2017
Date first made open access:10 February 2017

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