Today is the 2000th anniversary of the death of Caesar Augustus. For anyone who has ever seen it, the Divine Augustus will always be associated with Brian Blessed’s portrayal of him (left) in the BBC adaptation of the wonderful Robert Graves novels, I, Claudius and Claudius the God. And so, to commemorate the day, here’s a snippet of dialogue, on a law and religion theme, which captures the charming, cynical urbanity of the series. For those of us nerds of a certain sort, it’s a real guilty pleasure. I’m sure the whole thing is available on Netflix. Watch it — or, better yet, read the books!
- [Herod and Augustus are watching a gladiatorial contest.]
- Augustus: Herod, what about a little bet? I’ll take the fat one for twenty gold pieces.
- Herod: Caesar, it would be against my religion to bet on the life of a man.
- Augustus: Oh, really? I would have thought it against your religion to bet on anything.
- Herod: Caesar, it’s true: Jews love gambling. But we fear our god more.
- Augustus: Which one?
- Herod: We have only one, Caesar.
- Augustus: I’ve never understood that, it’s quite insufficient. Why don’t you take some of our gods? You know, plenty of people do.
- Herod: Believe me, Caesar, the one we have is hard enough to live with.