586. CLOAK AND DAGGER

CLOAK AND DAGGER

Any operation that involves some intrigue, especially the melodramatic undercover activities of those involved in espionage or other secret work.

Cloak-and-dagger plays were swashbuckling adventures popular in the seventeenth century. In France, a performance of this type was known as a comédie de cape et d’épée and this is the direct source of the English phrase “cloak and dagger”.

The name also appears in the Spanish comedias de capa y espada, literally “comedies of cloak and sword”, particularly those by the Spanish dramatists Lope De vega (1562-1635) and Calderòn (1600-81), although their plays were dramas of merely domestic intrigues.

Taken from: Judy Parkinson, Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas, Michael O’Mara Books Limited

585. TO CROSS THE RUBICON

 


To take an irrevocable step, to burn one’s bridges, to go beyond the point of no return.

     The Rubicon was a smaller river, which formed the border between ancient Italy and Cisalpine Gaul, the province allocated to Julius Caesar (100-44 BC).  When Caesar crossed this stream in 49 BC, he went beyond the limits of his own province and thus became an invader in Italy, making the outbreak of war between Pompey (106-48) and the Senate inevitable.

    “The Rubicon” is now often used alone as a description of “the point of no return”.

     Taken from Judy Parkinson, “Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas”, Michael O’Mara Books Limited.