A Brief History...


...of something funny but not too useful.

So Her Highness was initially a bit miffed about the Carthage line at the end of my earlier post. Her reasoning was that I was saying something about her that she didn't understand, and thus it was likely an insult. Sharp girl, n'est pas?

The real story is as follows: for a variety of reasons, far beyond the scope of this blurb, a number of Romans felt a great deal of hostility towards Carthage in the period around 200 BC. The hostility actually extended quite a ways on either side of 200 BC, but it's around 200 BC that's important here.

Right around the time period in question, Cato the Elder was a Roman statesman, a senator I think, who held a particular grudge against Carthage. And so, to ensure the issue wouldn't be forgotten, he would end every speech by saying, "ceterum censeo Carthago delenda est". Which, loosely translated, means, "and furthermore, I think that Carthage should be destroyed".

Or more literally, "and furthermore, I think Carthage is {fated / destined / required / needed} to be destroyed". It's almost a sort of fulfilling-fate, doing-the-gods'-will sort of tone.

It's kind-a like the French exiger in that the concept is very clear, very simple, and very nearly impossible to cleanly translate to English.

Anyway, Cato would always end his speeches with this. He could be talking about foreign affairs or simply leading a toast - it didn't matter to him. So it makes a good funny ending to long rants that may seem too serious. It's kind-a like saying 'Burma Shave' after a particularly dreadful piece of poetry. Not that I imagine a whole lot of people will be getting that reference either.

Anyway, now that you know, go use it in a history paper. If your teacher gets the reference, s/he will be pretty bloody impressed.