‘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 🙂