the die is cast

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From games of chance in which the outcome is determined by the throwing of dice or a single die. Popularized by its use by Suetonius when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon to begin a civil war in the Roman Republic, indicating the commission of an irreversible act, whence also cross the Rubicon.

The form “the die is cast” is from the Latin iacta ālea est, a grammatically, and thereby semantically, incorrect translation by Suetonius, 121 C.E.,[1] of the Ancient Greek phrase of Menander ἀνερρίφθω κύβος (anerrhíphthō kúbos), which Caesar quoted in Greek (not Latin). The Greek translates rather as “let the die be cast!”, or “let the game be ventured!”.


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the die is cast

  1. (idiomatic) The future is determined; there are no more options; events will proceed in an irreversible manner; the point of no return has been passed.

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ Suetonius, Vīta Dīvī Iūlī (The Life of the deified Julius), 121 C.E., par. 33 (Caesar [] “Iacta ālea est”, inquit.Caesar said [] “The die is cast”.)
  2. ^ Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 60.2.9. See also Plutarch's Life of Caesar, 32.8.4, and Sayings of Kings and Emperors, 206 c.