The List

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The Independent Online
THE BIG QUESTIONS: Who told thee that thou wast naked? (God to Adam); Am I my brother's keeper? (Cain to God); What is truth? (Pilate, washing his hands); When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman? (John Ball's sermon before the Peasants' Revolt 1381); Who will rid me of this turbulent priest? (Henry II of St Thomas Becket, 1170); Who killed Cock Robin? (sung of the downfall of Walpole's ministry, 1742); What is to be done? (V I Lenin, 1902); What do women want? (Sigmund Freud, 1930s); Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party? (Joseph McCarthy, 1950s); What if everybody behaved like that? (to Yossarian in Joseph Heller's Catch 22, 1961); What becomes of the broken-hearted? (Jimmy Ruffin, 1966); Do you take this woman . . . forsaking all others?

(Archbishop of Canterbury to Prince of Wales, 1981); Is she not fragrant?

(Sir Bernard Caulfield of Mary Archer, 1987); What's in it for me?

(overheard in the House of Commons).

TODAY is the feast day of St Severinus Boethius, sixth- century Roman scholar and martyr, about whom a disturbing question arises. Was he in fact a Christian when he died? He was imprisoned by King Theodoric the Ostrogoth who had gained control of Italy, and who believed that members of the Rome Senate were conspiring against him. During his imprisonment, which ended in brutal torture and execution, Boethius wrote the Consolation of Philosophy, admired by theologians and philosophers throughout the Middle Ages and translated into English by Alfred the Great. But Christianity does not feature once in this his final treatise.

23 October, 42BC: Marcus Junius Brutus (above), leader of the conspirators who had murdered Julius Caesar two years earlier, committed suicide. Brutus had supported Pompey in the war with Julius Caesar. Caesar forgave him but Brutus remained a republican. After the assassination Mark Antony banished Brutus and Cassius to Macedonia, where they raised an army against him. The army was crushed at Philippi by Mark Antony and Octavian (later emperor Augustus) and Brutus, realising the republican cause was lost, fell on his sword.

1707: The first parliament of Great Britain met following the Act of Union.

1942: Battle of Alamein started.

1946: The United Nations General Assembly met for the first time.

(Photograph omitted)

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