‘Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.‘
When I was in Year 10, we had to study Julius Caesar (the play, not the man) and memorise these lines as part of our homework. Cassius speaks them to Brutus, as part of a discussion about Caesar and how it is that he is their ruler, rather than some other, more worthy, man. What he is saying (as I understand it) is that they have only themselves to blame for not pursuing a path to glory, rather than it being the result of some divine twist of fate. We studied other Shakespeare plays during my time in high school – The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet – but these three lines have always stayed in my mind.
I have a single tattoo. It’s on my hip, and is a circle with a Celtic knot pattern. I chose it to honour my Celtic heritage, and it stayed fairly circular even through my pregnancy (though I did refer to it as the ‘celtic egg’ for a while). But the interesting thing is that, after I’d already chosen the design and had it inked on my skin, I discovered a bit more about it. It is actually called The Llewys Design, and is a representation of the twists and turns of fate, something significant to my own life.
So I think the reason I’ve always remembered these lines is that they speak to the idea of choice. That we have some say in what happens to us. Though I think Shakespeare also leaves things open to the idea of fate intervening, when he writes that ‘men at some time are masters of their fates.’ At some time, but not all the time. Sometimes, you can open a door and walk into a room and your life changes in an instant. That’s what happened when I met my husband. Oh, not because we had some lightning bolt moment of ‘this is it, you are mine forever!’ Rather, when I walked into the room and shook his hand my path shifted without my even knowing it, as did his, a pure twist of fate. The choices came later, when I decided to go to Australia for ‘a year,’ to see what it was like. Seventeen years, a marriage and a child later we came back to the UK, another unexpected twist.
While I agree with Shakespeare that we are, at some times, masters of our fate, I also believe that the fault does, at times, lie in our stars. That things happen to us that cannot be explained by choice or determination, but rather as part of some larger picture we are not yet permitted to see. And so, while we can make conscious choices that shape the paths of our lives, at other times it is as though the choices are being made for us, and we can either face them, or turn away.
And that’s my final choice for my Three Quote Challenge – thanks for reading along with me 🙂
I was nominated by the lovely Eilis Niamh to take this challenge, the rules of which are as follows:
First, you thank the person who’s nominated you.
Then, you post a quote you love.
Finally, on each of the three days you post a different quote, you choose another blogger to carry on. (ooh, not sure about that last one – however, we shall see)
Thank you Eilis! Once again, I don’t have a nominee today, but if you’re reading this and would like to take up the challenge, please do 🙂
Your quote is cool, Helen. But the story behind it is even better. Thanks for sharing your personal journey with us.
You’re very welcome – thanks for your lovely comment(s) xx
A wonderful quote to choose. It has always been a favorite of mine.
Thank you! I’m really glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Funny how some things stay with you, isn’t it?
As an author who’s been publishing for many years, the hardest thing for me to have embraced *is* the randomness of life as an author. Both good and bad things happen in my career and it’s out of my control. You go with the flow, whether it’s a trickle or a flood.
Absolutely! There’s only so much you can do – the rest you have to leave to fate. Embracing that is the only way to deal with it and move forward 🙂
In the early 60’s in America, in high school we were “forced”–no, “required” to memorize Mark Antony’s funeral speech for Caesar. We did not have to “perform’ it: we all had a blank piece of paper and had to write it all out. You know, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears! Yada yada. I am much more of a “MacBeth” fan. At any rate, if I see Antony in an old film making his speech, after over half a century, I can still mumble along with him. Such is the power of the author. Shakespeare, what a guy! (You can quote me). My cat has quoted Shakespeare in the past on my blog, but it never quite caught on. Might try it again. You have given me that “inspiration” here today.
Thanks Greg – I think we had to learn the ‘Friends, Romans Countrymen’ speech too, but that one never stayed with me 🙂 I enjoyed your ‘Ghost Cat Orb’ post, by the way. I think I took an orb photo once – if you’re interested, I put it in this post: https://journeytoambeth.com/2015/06/08/ghosts-of-my-grandfather/