“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.” –Julius Caesar
Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim made this Caesarean declaration on Facebook earlier this week: I have crossed the Rubicon…it’s congressman for 2019 – Ilonggos, I will fight for you. By refencing the Rubicon, a shallow river in northeast Italy, as the focal point of his battle cry, he is imitating Julius Caesar, who crossed the waterway in 49 BC, which was tantamount to declaring war against Rome, as represented by Pompey and the Senate.
By “crossing the Rubicon,” the city official is committing to taking a certain course of action and Alim must now decisively defeat Pompey to complete the heroic saga.
He is expected to face former city council colleagues Dr. Perla Zulueta and Julienne ‘Jam-Jam’ Baronda in next year’s congressional race. They represent two “Pompeys,” backed by two powerhouse establishments, “the Treñas Cavalry” and “the Joe III Squadron.” Alim joins the fray with the combined Gonzalez-Ynion Armada.
The real Caesar and Pompey fought to the bitter end at Pharsalus in 48 B.C. Pompey had a force of 48,000 infantries and 7,000 horses, while Caesar fought with 22,000 and 1,000. “Some few of the noblest Romans, standing as spectators outside the battle… could not but reflect to what a pass private ambition had brought the Empire,” said Plutarch. “The whole flower and strength of the same city, meeting here in collision with itself, offered plain proof how blind and mad a thing human nature is when passion is aroused.”
In “Caesar and Christ,” Will Durant narrated: “Near relatives, even brothers, fought in the opposite armies. Caesar bade his men spare all Romans who should surrender; as to the young aristocrat Marcus Brutus, he said, they were to capture him without injuring him, or, if this proved impossible, they were to let him escape.”
The Pompeians were overwhelmed by superior leadership, training, and morale. 15,000 were killed or wounded, 20,000 surrendered, and the remainder fled. Pompey later tore the insignia of command from his clothing and took flight like the rest. Caesar claimed to have lost but 200 men, which cast doubt upon all his books.
Caesar’s army was amused to see the tents of the defeated so elegantly adorned, their tables laden with the feast that was to celebrate their victory. He eventually ate Pompey’s supper in Pompey’s tent.
Pompey rode all night to Larissa, then to the sea, and took a ship to Alexandria.
At Mytilene, where his wife joined him, citizens wished for him to stay. He refused and advised them to submit to the conqueror without fear, saying, “Caesar was a man of great goodness and clemency.”
Brutus also escaped to Larissa, but there he dallied and wrote to Caesar.
The victor expressed joy on hearing that he was safe; readily forgave him; and, at his request, forgave Cassius.
To the nations of the east, which were controlled by the upper classes and had supported Pompey, Caesar was likewise lenient. He distributed Pompey’s hoards of grain among the starving Greeks and, to the Athenians asking pardon, he replied with a smile of reproof: “How often will the glory of your ancestors save you from self-destruction?”
When Pompey hoped to resume the battle against Caesar (on the heels of news reporting the army and resources from Egypt and the forces of Cato, Labienus, and Metellus Scipio were organizing at Utica), he was murdered by servants of Pothinus, eunich vizer of Ptolemy XII, as he reached Alexanderia, in expectation of a reward from Caesar.
When Caesar arrived, Pothinus’ men presented him with Pompey’s severed head.
Caesar turned away and wept.
By riding on the epic of “crossing the Rubicon,” which bears a striking resemblance to his struggle in Iloilo City politics, will Alim weep like Julius Caesar and loudly declare “Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)” after all the votes are counted?/WDJ