The die is cast

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Dinosaur, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    When Caesar said "The die is cast" as he crossed the Rubicon River with an army, he was essentially saying that he was taking a chance. Id est: His action was analogous to throwing a a cube with numbers on its faces hoping for a favorable number because his action signaled an intent to depose the then current Roman emperor & would result in his execution if he failed.

    When I was in 7th or 8th grade & raised with an early knowledge of metallurgy, I interpreted his statement as saying he was committed to deposing the current emperor. It was analogous to creating a forging die which could only be used to make one particular shaped metal product.

    A girl friend of mine was aware of the term casting a dye, which meant making a white piece of cloth a particular color & viewed Caesar's statement as analogous to dying a piece of white cloth after which it would be difficult to change back to white or dying it another color (other than black).

    It is interesting that the above three interpretations seem to suggest the same meaning.
     
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  3. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    First interpretation is correct as far as die is cast. Your history knowledge is distorted. There was no emperor. Rome was still nominally a republic. According to the Roman law, a general was not supposed to enter Rome (Rubicon was the border) with his army. Caesar was concerned that if he entered alone, he might end up being murdered.
     
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  5. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    "The die is cast" refers to being on on an revocable course due to past choices. In other words, you can choose to toss the die, but can change your mind right up to the point were it leaves your hand, but once it has been cast, you cannot reverse your decision, nor can you effect the outcome of the toss.
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    What Ceasar said was
    nothing about tinctura or fabricet or moriatur. The other meanings of die or dye come from English translation and, as English comes from many other languages, it produces many coincidental similarities, alternative interpretations and homonyms. That creates a good deal of the verbal humour.
     
  8. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    He should have followed his instincts.
     
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    He should have followed the law.
     

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