Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Plutarch
Editor: John D. Cox
Not Peer Reviewed

Life of Caesar


XVII. Now Caesar's self did breed this noble courage and life in them. First, for that he gave them bountifully, and did honor them also, strewing thereby, that he did not heap up riches in the wars to maintain his life afterwards in wantonness and pleasure, but that he did keep it in store, honorably to reward their valiant service: and that by so much he thought himself rich, by how much he was liberal in rewarding of them that had deserved it. Furthermore, they did not wonder so much at his valiantness in putting himself at every instant in such manifest danger, and in taking so extreme pains as he did, knowing that it was his greedy desire of honor that set him on fire, and pricked him forward to do it: but that he always continued all labor and hardness, more than his body could bear, that filled them all with admiration. For, concerning the constitution of his body, he was lean, white, and soft-skinned, and

Caesar had the falling sickness.

often subject to headache, and otherwhile to the falling sickness (the which took him the first time, as it is reported, in Corduba, a city of Spain) but yet therefore yielded not to the disease of his body, to make it a cloak to cherish him withal, but contrarily, took the pains of war as a medicine to cure his sick body, fighting always with his disease, travelling continually, living soberly, and commonly lying abroad in the field. For the most nights he slept in his coach or litter, and thereby bestowed his rest, to make him always able to do something: and in the day-time he would travel up and down the country to see towns, castles, and strong places. He had always a secretary with him in the coach, who did still write as he went by the way, and a soldier behind him that carried his sword. He made such speed the first time he came from Rome, when he had his office, that in eight days he came to the River of Rhone. He was so excellent a rider of horse from his youth, that holding his hands behind him, he would gallop his horse upon the spur. In his wars in Gaul, he did further exercise himself to indite letters as he rode by the way, and did occupy two secretaries at once with as much as they could write: and, as Oppius writeth, more than two at a time. As it is reported, that Caesar was the first that devised friends might talk together by writing ciphers in letters, when he had no leisure to speak with them for his urgent business, and for the great distance besides from Rome.

The temperance of Caesar in his diet.

How little account Caesar made of his diet, this example cloth prove it. Caesar supping one night in Milan with his friend Valerius Leo, there was served sparage to his board, and oil of perfume put into it instead of salletoil. He simply eat it, and

Caesar's civility not to blame his friends.

found no fault, blaming his friends that were offended: and told them, that it had been enough for them to have abstained to eat of that they misliked, and not to shame their friend, and how that he lacked good manners that found fault with his friend. Another time, as he travelled through the country, he was driven by foul weather on the sudden to take a poor man's cottage, that had but one little cabin in it, and that was so narrow, that one man could but scarce lie in it. Then he said to his friends that were about him: " Greatest rooms are meetest for greatest men, and the most necessary rooms for the sickest persons." And thereupon he called Oppius that was sick to lie there all night: and he himself, with the rest of his friends, lay without doors, under the easing of the house.