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N.S. Gill

Caesar Crossed the Rubicon

By January 10, 2014

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This Day in Ancient History (January 10):
Caesar Crosses the Rubicon
© Clipart.com
To cross the Rubicon means to take an irrevocable step that commits one to a specific course. It started when Julius Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon river on this day in 49 B.C., in violation of the law.

Section on the Crossing of the Rubicon
From Suetonius' Life of Julius Caesar
When he came to the river Rubicon, which parts Gaul within the Alps from the rest of Italy, his thoughts began to work, now he was just entering upon the danger, and he wavered much in his mind, when he considered the greatness of the enterprise into which he was throwing himself. He checked his course, and ordered a halt, while he revolved with himself, and often changed his opinion one way and the other, without speaking a word. This was when his purposes fluctuated most; presently he also discussed the matter with his friends who were about him, (of which number Asinius Pollio was one,) computing how many calamities his passing that river would bring upon mankind, and what a relation of it would be transmitted to posterity. At last, in a sort of passion, casting aside calculation, and abandoning himself to what might come, and using the proverb frequently in their mouths who enter upon dangerous and bold attempts, "The die is cast," with these words he took the river. Once over, he used all expedition possible, and before it was day reached Ariminum, and took it.

The Rubicon


January 12, 2007 at 10:47 am
(1) Timothy Roberts says:

Can you please tell me the ancient source or sources that pin point the 10th as the date of the crossing? I have also seen the 11th. I am not knit picking I have looked and looked and honestly cannot find the classical source for either date. Let’s ignore the fact that the calendar at this time was hoplessly out of date and the Rubicon event happened in November (?) sometime.

January 12, 2007 at 11:47 am
(2) ancienthistory says:

I don’t know the ancient source. Tenney Frank says the tenth.
Caesar at the Rubicon
Tenney Frank
The Classical Quarterly
Vol. 1, No. 2/3 (Jul., 1907), pp. 223-225

Thanks for the reminder about the inaccuracy of the dating. Some time last year I had started putting in a notice about it, but I never finished adding it to the 365 days of the 2006 calendar and hadn’t added it to this year’s dates so far.

January 12, 2007 at 11:58 am
(3) ancienthistory says:

I just remembered something that should help clear up the date. Tenney Frank says the night of the tenth, so it probably covered the midnight period going on the 11th — if that’s not too anachronistic an understanding. I don’t remember when the Romans thought a new day began.

January 10, 2008 at 11:10 pm
(4) alice says:

Roman History is fascinating!!!

December 3, 2009 at 1:43 am
(5) Alejandro says:

My girlfriend wrote me…”he cruzado el Rubicon” which meant that she had taking an irrevocable step and filed a restrain order against her husband for harrasing and stalking her,he left him 2 years ago because the constant abuse caused her to have a nervous breakdown.
I didnt know the meaning of the frase ” to cross the Rubicon” thank you for your help. Alejandro.

March 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm
(6) Jessica R. says:

Why did Julius cross the Rubicon?

January 10, 2013 at 10:23 am
(7) Jim says:

To get to the other side!!

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