Why do we say "The die is cast"?

Well-Known Expressions

The die is cast

Meaning:

The decision is made, it's too late to change, you've past the point of no return.

Background:

According to the Greek historian Plutarch (c 46-120 AD) in his Life of Caesar, and in the writings of Suetonius, when Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon in 49 BC (thus declaring civil war against the Roman government) he uttered the words jacta alea est (or alea jacta est) which translate as "the die is cast" (die, obviously, being the singular of dice).

Crossing the Rubicon, another popular idiom, has a similar meaning.  The Rubicon, a river in the north of Italy, marked the boundary between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul (meaning "Gaul on this side of the Alps") to the north and the Italian republic to the south.  Roman law prohibited its generals crossing the river with an army so as to protect the Republic from internal military threat. Thus, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon he broke the law and effectively declared war, making armed conflict inevitable.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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