Monday, March 08, 2021

Caesar's last words: Et tu, Brute? or καὶ σύ, τέκνον; ?


Image: Vincenzo Camuccini, La mort de Cèsar, 1806.

I was listening to the “In Our Time” podcast on Marcus Aurelius the other day and one of the panelists made the observation that upper class Romans often preferred speaking Greek to Latin. He noted that although in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar the dictator’s final words are “Et tu, Brute?”, it is more likely that he said, καὶ σύ, τέκνον; (“You also, child?”). See this Wikipedia article.

I thought I’d add this anecdote to my repertoire when explaining why the NT was written in Greek (the lingua franca of the early Roman empirical period) rather than in Latin.


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