rome first triumvirate
The First Triumvirate of the Roman Republic: Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gaius Julius Caesar. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the years, pop culture has loved a good, fun trio. Leads on TV and cinema are often seen flanked by two best friends; we’re thinking ‘Lizzie McGuire’, ‘Harry Potter’ and people-favourite cartoon ‘The Powerpuff Girls’. Let’s not forget our folktales that feature three little bears, three stepsisters, three wishes and so on.

Click start to play today’s Crossword, which tests your knowledge of triplicates, from beverage sizes to pop groups.

TAB Grint in Harry Potter 2-1611145758091
Harry Potter trio Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. Image Credit: Supplied

The number enjoys limelight in several cultures of the world. In Mandarin, the number three (san) sounds a lot like ‘life’, so it’s considered lucky in China, except where marriages or relationships are concerned. Greek philosophers exalted the digit as well: Plato thought the world was made up of triangles, and before him Pythagoras believed it to be the perfect number since it had a beginning, middle and an end.

But trios didn’t spell luck and favour for ancient Rome, rather they proved that triumvirs were a crowd. These are three powerful individuals coming together to rule as equals under a government called the triumvirate. The Roman Republic only saw through two of such rulings before civil wars gave the empire its first, singular emperor.

‘Was the crown offered him thrice?’

History texts don’t hold a candle to William Shakespeare’s passionate retelling of the tragedy of Julius Caesar. Before he was assassinated, the general was part of the First Triumvirate comprising Gnaius Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great), Marcus Lucinius Crassus and Gaius Julius Caesar.

The ‘Gang of Three’ succumbed to personal vendettas and ambitions easily when their relationship had been shaky to begin with. As Crassus died on the battlefield chasing glory, Pompey and Caesar had no reason to stay on, especially since the former’s wife, Caesar’s daughter, passed in child birth too.

From 49 to 45 BCE, a series of civil wars between the two titans eventually led to the rise of Caesar the dictator. He gained so much support that his ruling term was bumped to a lifetime, even being offered the crown thrice.

‘Et tu, Brute?’

The Roman Senate or the governing body began to wring their hands in fear. Caesar’s trusted general Marcus Brutus led the assassination plot along with other conspirators the following year (44 BCE). Greek biographer Plutarch particularly noted how Caesar stopped struggling against the blows once he spotted his friend Brutus with a dagger.

This is how we get Shakespeare’s famous Latin phrase: “You too, Brutus?”

How lucky has the number three been for you? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at