Funes the Memorious
June 28, 2008 7:55 AM   Subscribe

What happened to Calpurnia after Julius Caeser's death?

Umberto Eco says "I have examined some of the thousands of websites dedicated to her, but all of them refer to her as Caeser's wife before his death, and that's all. It would appear that what little happened to her afterwards has been judged irrelevant."
Is this true?
posted by tellurian to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total)
Well according to wikipedia, following his death she delivered some papers to Mark Anthony, never remarried and died. That's at least three things that Umberto missed!
posted by merocet at 8:21 AM on June 28, 2008

Clarification: When I said "Is this true?" I wasn't quoting Umberto Eco. I was questioning the idea of information being lost because it isn't regarded as important 'at the time'. The Calpurnia thing still carries (as an example).
posted by tellurian at 8:26 AM on June 28, 2008

Calpurnia in her irrelevance, I mean.
posted by tellurian at 8:29 AM on June 28, 2008

merocet, Wikipedia is not what we call a scholarly source; it's just another website. I have been looking around at better sources, and it appears to be true that we do not know what happened to her after Caesar's death; Plutarch, our main source for the period, drops her after her prophetic dream. And yes, of course it's true that information is lost because it's not considered important.

For a magisterial takedown of Eco's pretensions to erudition, see here.
posted by languagehat at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Despite the 'magisterial takedown of Eco's pretensions to erudition' being a great read (thank you) is Calpurnia's fate unresolved? I'm disappointed that there are no scholars researching.
posted by tellurian at 9:05 AM on June 28, 2008

As I read the wiki article, the part merocet mentioned is actually about Calpurnia's role in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It's written very unclearly though and I don't remember the play at all myself. Maybe someone else can verify.

The post about Eco seems to be a takedown of what he accomplishes (or fails to accomplish) with his erudition, specifically in his fiction. It's not a takedown of the man's actual knowledge or scholarship.
posted by egg drop at 9:10 AM on June 28, 2008

Languagehat, I answered an ambiguously worded question. The Eco quote makes no reference to scholarly sources and I wasn't quoting wikipedia as a scholarly source on Calpurnia but simply as one of the "websites dedicated to her" as specified by Eco. There's no need to add detail that isn't there to a question in order to make a sniffy point about wikipedia's credibility.
posted by merocet at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2008

Sorry, didn't mean to come across as making a sniffy point about wikipedia's credibility. I thought the poster was looking for actual references, and figured he could find Wikipedia for himself. The question is, after all, "What happened to Calpurnia after Julius Caes[a]r's death?"

It's not a takedown of the man's actual knowledge or scholarship.

Well, it's hard to read that and take the man's knowledge and scholarship as seriously as he wants you to take them. I love Eco's writing and look forward to reading The Name of the Rose again someday, but I now think of him as a writer having fun with (rather superficial) scholarship, not a scholar who amuses himself writing novels.
posted by languagehat at 11:17 AM on June 28, 2008

Who was Calpurnia?

(Includes cites for those who wish to follow further)
posted by gimonca at 12:55 PM on June 28, 2008

Eco's books are fictionalizations of aspects of history, yes? You're allowed to make things up as you go as a writer of fiction.

A fellow writer once attacked me in a workshop because I'd gotten the interior of a local bar wrong. He proceded to treat me to a magisterial takedown of my erudtion on the subject of neighborhood bars in our area. The thing is, once you put something in your novel, it becomes your own. You can do anything with it you like.
posted by frosty_hut at 1:30 PM on June 28, 2008

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