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On this day in 63 BC the famous Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero began his speeches against the conspirator Lucius Sergius Catilina. After the first speech, Catilina started plotting to have him murdered.
In the often tarnished history of Rome, Cicero stands out as a truly great man, fearless in fighting for what he believed was right. In the chaos following the death of Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to traditional Republican government. He was eventually murdered in 43 BC.
Today’s poem is Shakespeare’s magnificent paean to life well lived, from his play, Cymbeline:
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
And renownèd be thy grave!
Today I ask to do my best in all that I attempt, and to be true to myself.