Caesar Must be First: Plutarch, Caesar 11 (ft. Suetonius!)

“It is said that when he crossed the Alps and came to a little barbarian town, inhabited by a very few people and indeed, a sad little place, his comrades asked with a bit of laughter and jesting, ‘Do they have the same craving for honors there, the same struggles for primacy and the same enmity between their foremost men?’ Caesar responded with considerably seriousness, ‘I would rather be the first man among those barbarians than second among the Romans.’”

λέγεται δὲ τὰς ῎Αλπεις ὑπερβάλλοντος αὐτοῦ καὶ πολίχνιόν τι βαρβαρικόν, οἰκούμενον ὑπ’ ἀνθρώπων παντάπασιν ὀλίγων καὶ λυπρόν, παρερχομένου, τοὺς ἑταίρους ἅμα γέλωτι καὶ μετὰ παιδιᾶς „ἦ που” φάναι „κἀνταῦθά τινές εἰσιν ὑπὲρ ἀρχῶν φιλοτιμίαι καὶ περὶπρωτείων ἅμιλλαι καὶ φθόνοι τῶν δυνατῶν πρὸς ἀλλήλους;” τὸν δὲ Καίσαρα σπουδάσαντα πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἰπεῖν· „ἐγὼ μὲν <μᾶλλον ἂν> ἐβουλόμην παρὰ τούτοις εἶναι [μᾶλλον] πρῶτος ἢ παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίοις δεύτερος.”

This is reminiscent of a passage in Suetonius (Divus Iulius, 29), in which he relates that Caesar would not readily settle for being second place:

“Caesar was disturbed by these things and because he judged (and they say that people often heard this from him) that it would be more difficult to force him from first place to second than second to last, he resisted with all his power…”

Commotus his Caesar ac iudicans, quod saepe ex eo auditum ferunt, difficilius se principem civitatis a primo ordine in secundum quam ex secundo in novissimum detrudi, summa ope restitit…

2 thoughts on “Caesar Must be First: Plutarch, Caesar 11 (ft. Suetonius!)

  1. Ken Ostrand

    Would you consider, please, labeling your illustrations as to artist and location, please? I ‘know’ this illustration, but don’t want to locate my Balsdon to be reminded of who it is.

    Thank you!


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