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The die is cast

As several editions of the novel have noted, this phrase was uttered by Julius Caesar when he crossed the Rubicon: it is quoted in the Life of Julius Caesar, the first of the Lives of the Twelve Caesars of Caius Suetonius Tranquillus. Mary Shelley read Suetonius in May 1817 while she was writing Frankenstein, so it is certain that she would not allude to this famous phrase without a sense of its actual context. Caesar goes forward to total victory, whereas it would seem in contrast that Walton returns in defeat. But perhaps the context is as ironic as that provided Victor's speech to the sailors by Dante's Inferno 26. In such a case we might want to read Walton's superficial defeat as cloaking a moral victory.