Shakespeare play, c.1599
Fishburn and Hughes: A Roman general, politician and man of letters, who defeated Pompey at the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, was appointed Dictator by the Senate and was murdered four years later. The events of his campaigns in Gaul (58-52 BC) are related in the seven books of his Commentaries (De Bello Gallico).
Funes, his Memory: these reports, sent to the Roman Senate, aimed at justifying Caesar's policy and constitutional position. Despatched from his winter quarters, their lucidity and objectivity make them not only a reliable historical document but a literary masterpiece. The Commentaries on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey (De Bello Civili), published unrevised after Caesar's death, are not held in the same esteem.
The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero: during his dictatorship Caesar held total power in the city and the provinces. On 15 March 44 BC a group of republicans, including sixteen senators, knifed him to death in the Senate, before the statue of Pompey. Most but not all of the historical data given in Borges's story tally with the details of Shakespeare's play, based mainly on Plutarch. In Julius Caesar, on the morning of Caesar's death his wife Calpurnia entreats him not to go into the Senate because of ominous rumours she has heard of graves opening to release the bodies of dead warriors. She has dreamed of his statue spouting blood like a fountain, and of the Romans washing their hands in it. Caesar is at first persuaded, but Decius Brutus mocks him and spurs him on to going, and Calpurnia's warnings go unheeded. Equally the petition presented by Artemidorus which denounces the members of the plot remains unread. Funes, His Memory; The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero