Meaning of "Iacta alea est"

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

I'm not sure, but I think Alexander the Great said, "The die is cast." Please set me straight as to who, when, and where.

The Answer:

Actually, it was Julius Caesar who uttered the phrase "Iacta alea est" [the die is cast].

Reportedly, with these words on Jan. 19, 49 B.C.E., Caesar and his army crossed the Rubicon, the stream bounding his province, to enter Italy. The advancement, in violation of the senate's orders, meant the civil war and Caesar's march against Pompey had begun.

Caesar was said to have borrowed the phrase from his favorite Greek poet-dramatist, Menander. Today, the phrase "to cross the Rubicon" means to take an irrevocable step.

-The Fact Monster

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