Roman law prohibited the Rubicon from being crossed by any Roman Army legion. The river marked the boundary between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul to the north and Italy proper to the south. The law was intended to protect the republic from internal military threat. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army in 49 BC, supposedly on January 10 of the Roman calendar, to make his way to Rome, he broke that law and made armed conflict inevitable. According to the historian Suetonius, Caesar uttered the famous phrase ālea iacta est ("the die is cast") when he reached this life-changing point of no return.
Suetonius also described how Caesar was apparently still undecided as he approached the river. The author credits the actual moment of crossing to a supernatural apparition. The phrase "Crossing the Rubicon" has survived to refer to any people committing themselves irrevocably to a risky and revolutionary course of action.
This milestone anniversary comes to mind as the film, Selma, makes its way to the Golden Globes this weekend. As the film makes clear, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March of 1965 was the same as crossing the Rubicon. There was to be no turning back. Both events have in common acts of brutality that will always be remembered when they are mentioned. I have discussed Selma elsewhere in these blog pages. Since Caesar's anniversary occurs as audiences wait to see if Ava DuVernay will become the first female African-American director to receive a Golden Globe and possibly an Oscar, it seemed fitting to look again at what actually occurred at the Rubicon 2064 years ago.
Here then are two videos intended to shed light on that history.
Julius Caesar's Brutal War - Documentary