alea iacta est, Antonine Wall, Clydeside, faggots, fasces, metaphor, Nero, Optimates, Rubicon, Suetonius, testudo, togas, Tribune of the Plebs, William Wallace
Augustus Snodbury prepared to deliver one of his most ancient and
oft-repeated lessons in the Classic Department. However, he intended
to give it a topical spin.
He threw a die on the front desk and pronounced: Alea iacta est. This was, for
him, an interactive lesson, utilising a learning aid.
What does this mean?
Before he could choose which hand to acknowledge, that Boothroyd-Smythe
boy had prematurely ejaculated: The die is cast.
Sir. The die is cast, Sir.
Hmm, Snod harrumphed. And how could this be applied to our times?
Not you, boy. Someone else.
He must be getting past his sell-by date. A few years ago he’d have had
that boy clapped in irons, or thrown to the lions for shouting out. He
signalled to a quiet youth sitting on his own at the back.
The ginger-haired pupil ventured: Mr Cameron says there’s no going back for
the Scottish people.
Precisely, Snod rubber-stamped the response. You can’t cross back over The
Rubicon. Boy! Put that die down!
It wasn’t brought into this lesson for you to fiddle around with. Not even while
Now, take this down... Snod loved dictation. It was the best method of
control, even if it discouraged free thinking- especially as it discouraged
Once Caesar had crossed The Rubicon, there was no going back.
He turned and wrote ‘Suetonius‘ on the board. No one, least of all himself,
knew why, but, to a boy, they all wrote it down in their exercise books, some
putting out their tongues while they tried to get the letters in the right order.
The Rubicon, incidentally meaning The Red River, so having some associations
with Clydeside... this was for his own gratification, but there was much
scribbling, was in North Italy, but it does not preclude metaphorical references.
What’s a metaphor for? He suddenly sprang this on an unsuspecting child in
the second row, who slightly wet his shorts and broke his pencil point.
That’s where togas came in very handy, Snod observed to himself.
To make us think what it’s there for? quavered the child.
No, that’s a ‘therefore’, Snod barked. Pay attention! And attention is what The
Romans should have paid to those beyond The Antonine Wall. But that’s another
You see, Caesar had entered into rebellion and the Senate had removed him
from his command. It started a long civil war. Who were the two sides?
He wrote Optimates: Traditional Majority on the white board with an
indelible marker. Drat!
They wanted to limit the power of the Tribune of the Plebs.
A hand shot up! B–S again. Groan!
Wasn’t that what a politician called the police, sir?
The Optimates sought to preserve the ways of their forefathers..
Like William Wallace and..
Boothroyd-Smythe in his eagerness had forgotten to raise his hand. Twice
in one day. His report card would have to be stamped.
The bell rang shrilly.
Get into your testudo formation, said Snod. Okay,
Excuse me, sir. Who were the other side?
Snod momentarily had forgotten. He could smell the odour of his
favourite fasces, he meant faggots, emanating from the dining hall.
That’s your homework, he pronounced with imperatorial, nay,
gubernatorial authority. If you don’t know, find out for tomorrow.