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The Commentaries of Julius Caesar

I'm listening to The Commentaries of Julius Caesar on audio right now. Some thoughts on the book:

1. This is the second time I've gone through the book, and it's much more understandable. The book is hard to fully grasp without background.

Caesar is an immensely clear writer, but there's 10,000 things left unsaid in his book. If you don't understand the background of his life, and the general scope and plan he had -- and the general machinations of Roman society -- then a lot of actions don't make as much sense.

I've gone through enough Roman history now that I understand the backstory about how Roman politics and military works -- tribunes, consuls, governors, the immunity to prosecution while in office yet retroactive liability to prosecution after leaving office, how the various Popularii leaders had been executed or murdered, how indebted most of the aristocratic politicians became to run for office, the state of the equestrian class, troop makeup, etc.

To really get the most out of the book, you need to know something of the political and financial situation of Caesar, his men, and their general political party. It's a good read without that, but a fantastic read with it.

Tales from Miskatonic part 7

On Aesop

Professor Ellery wandered the halls in a daze, moving on autopilot the way that a non-lucid dreamer does while asleep. He somnambulated from one room to the next, moving purposefully, never rethinking, always in motion, until he came to the room he was searching for: his own office. There, on his desk, lying in a circle of moonlight framed by the parting clouds, was the vial he was looking for. He picked it up, opened a drawer and retrieved an empty syringe in a carrying case, checked to make sure he had all of the components necessary, and strode out of the room. As he was leaving it, a thunderous explosion boomed from nearby, and the window shattered inwards. He closed the door just in time to keep the pieces of broken glass from colliding with him, and strode forward purposefully, not looking back even for a moment. He was driven. He was a man with a plan, a man in love, a man with mad, intense purpose, and nothing would keep him from his mission.

Jim hobbled out of the room he formerly thought of as Professor Rice’s office, and now thought of as “the Glass Pit.” He held tight to his crutch in one hand, and had clutched in the other the scrap of paper. He found himself in a study hall, a long, empty table with chairs on all sides, used for review sessions. He sat down and finished reading the paper while he picked glass out of his hair.

Adam woke up with Molly standing over him, her hands on her hips. He had a not unpleasant view of her from this angle, and he was glad she wasn’t quite so “forward thinking” as to wear skirts. “Come on, up you get, doofus,” she said, reaching down and grabbing his hand. He looked down at the rubble in the hallway and let her help him up. “You’ll have to pay for what you did here,” she said. He was looking down and away from her face while he was standing up, but as she said that, he looked up and into a gaping, shattered head, her face completely destroyed, her brains leaking out of the front of her face and onto their clasped hands.

Jim sat, struggling with the translation of the paper. “A most ancient… sorry, no, elder, charm or sign, to use to stopper/prevent/block the movement through a passage/gate/portal by anything… not of the old world? No, that’s old and not of this world. That’s interesting. It almost looks like the Greek translator had trouble with the Arabic here. God I wish I knew Arabic, maybe I should take that next semester,” he muttered to himself as he pulled Adam’s gift from his pocket and laid it next to the parchment. The parchment clearly had a depiction of the amulet on it. It was very precisely the same, in all possible ways, down to what looked like scratches and dings in it. There were a few extra marks on Jim’s necklace, but it was also the case that every mark on the one the parchment showed was also on his necklace. The material looked like pewter. If that was the case, he should be able to squish it pretty easily. He pinched it between his fingernails, and no dent appeared. Okay, well, that means it has a low lead content, it could still be pewter. It certainly doesn’t look like steel or silver. And if the dates on this thing are accurate, it would have been a pretty big deal o make it out of steel. He put it between his molars and bit down on it until he felt like he was about to do damage to his teeth, and then took it out and wiped it on his sleeve to dry it off. No marks at all.

Why am I doing this? he thought. Sure, this thing is probably a (remarkably skillful) reproduction, but even if it is, why am I trying to damage it to prove that? And what if it’s not? This is probably a valuable artifact, and it might be of interest to the University. In fact, I know it is, Professor Rice had this paper on his desk! I could show it to him when the break is over, I’m sure he’d be fascinated. So why was I trying to destroy it? What was I afraid of?

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