A dish fit for the gods   Leave a comment

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A dish fit for the gods

Meaning

An offering of high quality.

Origin

From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, 1601:

BRUTUS:

Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar:
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar;
And in the spirit of men there is no blood:
O, that we then could come by Caesar’s spirit,
And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods…

In the speech Brutus expresses the view that, although the conspirators are resolved to kill Caesar, they aren’t mere butchers and should leave his body in a suitable state for the gods to view.

BRUTUS

Our action will seem too bloody if we cut off Caesar’s head and then hack at his arms and legs too, Caius Cassius—because Mark Antony is merely one of Caesar’s arms. It’ll look like we killed Caesar out of anger and Mark Antony out of envy. Let’s be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius. We’re all against what Caesar stands for, and there’s no blood in that. Oh, how I wish we could oppose Caesar’s spirit—his overblown ambition—and not hack up Caesar himself! But, unfortunately, Caesar has to bleed if we’re going to stop him. Noble friends, let’s kill him boldly but not with anger. Let’s carve him up like a dish fit for the gods, not chop him up like a carcass fit fordogs. Let’s be angry only long enough to do the deed, and then let’s act like we’re disgusted by what we had to do. This will make our actions seem practical and not vengeful. If we appear calm to the people, they’ll call us surgeons rather than murderers. As for Mark Antony—forget him. He’ll be as useless as Caesar’s arm after Caesar’s head is cut off.
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