Ancient Names

Every morning on my walk around Schiller Park I see this bright red Jeep Rubicon. It’s a cool looking car, but I scratch my head at the name.

Anybody who is interested in history knows about the Rubicon. It was a shallow river that marked the boundary between the Roman Republic and the province of Cisalpine Gaul. In 49 B.C. Julius Caesar violated Roman law and custom by leading a legion in crossing the Rubicon and bringing his army into the Roman Republic. That made war inevitable. Caesar reportedly paused on the banks of the Rubicon to consider his fateful decision, then said “the die is cast” as he waded across and his soldiers followed.

Of course Caesar prevailed in the ensuing conflict; he didn’t meet his bloody fate until the ides of March some years later. But ever since Caesar made his choice “crossing the Rubicon” is used to describe doing something that reflects an irrevocable commitment to a pivotal and perilous course of action. it’s a very useful phrase.

What does any of this have to do with a red Jeep? That’s not clear to me. Did the Jeep namers just like the sound of the word, or did they have any appreciation for its historical sign?