Would knowing the date of your death influence your actions? It did for Tiberius Caesar. Convinced by the court astrologer Thrasyllus that he had many years of life ahead of him, the paranoid old emperor chose to postpone the murder of his heir Caligula. But by believing Thrasyllus’s prediction and letting his guard down, Tiberius inadvertently gave Caligula enough time to poison him first. The rest, as they say, is history – which Thrasyllus had altered by deliberately overestimating his employer’s life expectancy. While many of us are unlikely to find ourselves in Caesar’s position, knowing how many years we…

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