Bayou-Picayune Podcast, S01 EP06: Coincidental Deaths
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Horatio, I simply don’t agree with you. In this case, I happen to agree with Shakespeare when he said, “There’s more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Let me give you an example:
Did you know that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third Presidents of the United States, died on the very same day — the fourth of July, 1826 — exactly fifty years to the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence?
Then five years later in 1831, the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, also died on — guess what? — the fourth of July!
Maybe it was just some old men who were trying to hang on to dear life for an important anniversary but, once they reached it, they were ready to go.
That’s what I think. But for three of the first five presidents to die on the birthday of their nation? Well, maybe it’s a coincidence. That’s possible. I’m inclined to agree with you, Horatio, on that one.
But maybe it was more than that, maybe it was a higher power or something that was saying, “OK, it’s time for you two to get out the pool.”
And, since I mentioned Shakespeare, I guess maybe I ought to talk about him and the coincidental death there — or deaths there.
In his play, Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare mocked Cassius by killing the assassin on his birthday.
What we do know, historically, is that Cassius (whose real name was Caius Cassius Longinus) was a corrupt, greedy Roman senator. We also know that he killed himself in 42 B.C., just two years after he and Brutus and their group of assassins had assassinated Caesar. And that was when he was defeated by Marc Antony and Octavius Caesar at Philippi.
But why did Shakespeare write about Cassius dying on his birthday? He just made that up. There was nothing historical to validate that he, in fact, died on his birthday.
I think the great poet Shakespeare did that for one reason. He was probably trying to suggest that it would have been better if Cassius had never been born, so he kills him off on his birthday.
If that’s the case, then that’s good. That would be Shakespeare’s little editorial addition.
But, as it turns out, the joke is on Shakespeare himself, for — guess what? — Shakespeare apparently died on his own birthday, April 23, 1616.
That’s pretty close!
And, as a side note, just another coincidence — just like that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson thing — another great literary figure also died on that very same day of that very same year.
And his name? Miguel Cervantes. You might know him better as the man who wrote Don Quixote.
And, if you still want more to show you that there’s more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, did you know that two world-famous giants in twentieth-century literature — C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley –died on the same day, and no one even noticed?
These were, at the time, the two biggest living literary figures in literature.
C.S. Lewis wrote the worldwide classics The Screwtape Letters and the Chronicles of Narnia. And Aldous Huxley? He penned the dystopian novel Brave New World, which is still studied in high school and college classrooms.
And both men died on the same day without a mention in even the back pages of nearly all the major daily newspapers.
And why, you ask, were the deaths of these prominent writers ignored?
The reason is that their death day just so happened to be November 22, 1963. Does that sound familiar? Because that’s the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Talk about bad timing!
Everyone was glued to his or her TV set, and all anyone wanted to read about in the newspaper was the assassination of the thirty-fifth President of the United States.
That’s why I don’t plan on ever dying because I know, right after I kick off, something big will happen, like a UFO landing on the White House lawn.
One thing I can tell you: Keep breathing, my friends!