Who is Caesar Rodney? Who is this man I find on my newly minted quarter? He is from, or in some way related to, Delaware. This is all I know. It was a large, elfin man who first posed this question to me. This man was carrying a sousaphone. I could offer no satisfactory answer.

In his book about alchemy, Alchemy, Titus Burckhardt wrote, “Gold and silver were already sacred metals, even before they became the measure of all commercial transactions. They are earthly reflections of sun and moon . . . For men of pre-rationalistic times the relationship between the noble metals and the two great luminaries was obvious, and a whole world of mechanistic notions and prejudices was necessary to obscure the self-evident reality of this relationship and make it look like a mere aesthetic accident.”

My question is this: Are mechanistic notions and prejudices to blame? Or was it Caesar Rodney? Was he a boxer? Those are three questions.

In my wallet is a torn 1,000-lira note, a souvenir from travels in Italy. I also keep in my possession a digital Godzilla watch from the same trip. The watch, not Godzilla, is digital. The Great Lizard goes by the name Il Mostro in Italy. On the Italian bill is a picture of M. Montessori b/w a teacher looking lovingly upon her student. Perhaps her student is learning about Caesar Rodney. This is unlikely.

In an article questioning the current worth of gold in Newsweek’s July 19 issue, writer Jeffrey Bartholet informs us that “No country uses the gold standard anymore. So, in some eyes, those giant hoards [of gold] are on par with Aunt Sadie stashing her savings under a mattress.” Presumably the house of Bartholet’s Aunt Sadie is a good one from which to steal.

I have sat through many history classes. I have learned many things about America. I do not know who Caesar Rodney was. It is a great land, America. Rendered as he is, strikingly, on the new Delaware quarter, Caesar Rodney appears to be a great man. Surely he was. By Godzilla’s side, however, he would have been a better man. One I would have known.