Julius Caesar’s Epilepsy in Early English Literature

Plutarch, “The Life of Iulius Caesar,” in The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes Compared Together (late 1st c.), trans. Thomas North (London: Thomas Vautroullier and John Wight, 1579):

That he alwayes con|tinued all labour and hardnesse, more then his bodie could beare, that filled them all with ad|miration. For, concerning the constitucion of his bodie, he was leane, white, and soft skin|ned, [ C] and often subiect to headache, and otherwhile to the falling sickenes: (the which tooke him the first time, as it is reported, in CORDVBA, a citie of SPAYNE) but yet therefore yeel|ded not to the disease of his bodie, to make it a cloke to cherishe him withall, but contrarilie, tooke the paines of warre, as a medicine to cure his sicke bodie fighting alwayes with his dis|ease, trauelling continually, liuing soberly, and commonly lying abroade in the field. (771)

 he went forthwith to set apon the campe of Afranius, the which he tooke at the first onset, and the campe of the NVMIDIANS also, king Iuba being fled. Thus in a litle peece of the day only, he tooke three campes, & slue fifty thow|sand of his enemies, and lost but fifty of his souldiers. In this sorte is set downe theffect of this battell by some wryters. Yet others doe wryte also, that Caesar selfe was not there in person at thexecution of this battel. For as he did set his men in battell ray, thefalling sickenesse tooke him, whereunto he was geuen, and therefore feeling it comming, before he was ouercome [ D] withall, he was caried into a castell not farre from thence, where the battell was sought, and there tooke his rest till thextremity of his disease had left him. (788)

Pierre de la Primaudaye, “Of Fortitude,” in The French Academie (1577), trans. Thomas Bowes (London: Edmund Bollifant for G. Bishop and Ralph Newbery, 1586):

Was there euer any Captaine among the Romanes greater than Iulius Caesar? Yet was he of a weake and tender complexion, subiect to great head|aches, and visited somtimes with the falling sicknes. But in steed of vsing the weaknes of his bodie for a cloke to liue nicely and delicately, he tooke the labors for warre for a fit medicine to cure the vntowardnes of his bodie, fighting against his disease with continuall labor and exercise, li|uing soberly, and lying for the most part in the open aire, which made him to be so much the more admired and lo|ued of his souldiers. As it may appeere by that which is re|ported of him, that being one daye by reason of great storme and tempest greatly vrged with want of lodging in a plaine, where there was but one little cottage belonging to a Peasant, which had but one chamber, he commanded that Oppius, one of his Captaines, who was il at ease, should be lodged there: as for himselfe he laye abroad with the rest, saying that the most honorable places were to be ap|pointed for the greatest, and the most necessarie for such as were most diseased. What shall we say of those, who be|ing impotent in some part of their members, did not|withstanding not diminish in any sort, but augment the glorie of their doings? (271)