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Brutus to Caesar – “Sucks to be you, dude.”

May 6, 2005

In any novel of a historical bent, a degree of anachronism is inevitable.  Certain concepts simply cannot be expressed to a modern reader using the terms and standards of the time in which the story takes place. 

I will freely admit that, I make use of yards and inches in my writing, rather than bother with explaining Roman units of measurement to a reader who could likely care less.  The same with the calendar – it may be correct to say "two days before the Nones of May", but does it really hurt anybody if I put it down as May 6th instead?

These are minor anachronisms, though, and I do make a concerted effort to avoid using modern language, cliches, and terminology.  Which makes me shake my head all the more when I come across it in published, even successful, novels.

Example.  I am currently reading The Sword of Attila by Michael Curtis Ford – I won’t get into reviewing it here, but suffice to say it tells the story of Attila the Hun, Flavius Aetius, and the historically significant Battle of Chalons that the two fought in 451 A.D. 

As I was reading last night, I came to a page where Theodoric, the king of the Visigoths, tells Aetius "it’s just what the doctor ordered".

"It’s just what the doctor ordered."  Now, if this were 1951, okay.  But it is 451 A.D.  And the line is spoken by a VISIGOTH, who likely did not have much exposure to doctors.

And I doubt he was referring to the Dr. Pepper carbonated beverage, which did not exist until 457.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2005 1:46 pm

    Caesar to Brutus:

    “Dude, take a chill pill aight?”

  2. May 6, 2005 8:04 pm

    “All of Gaul is, like, divided into three parts, or whatever.”

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