Beware The Ides of March

Morte di Giulio Cesare ("Death of Julius ...

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Today in History.  What is an ide anyway?

March 15th on the Roman Calendar probably referring to the full moon.  The term ides refers to the 15th day of March, May, July, and October and the 13th day of the other months.  The term ides was used for March 15th because it was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held.

In modern times, the ides of March is best known as the day on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C.  Caesar was stabbed to death in the Theatre of Pompey by 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

On his way to the Theatre of Pompey, it is said that Caesar seen a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him by the Ides of March.  Caesar joked, “Well the Ides of March have come.”  To which the seer replied, “Ay, but they have not gone.”  This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to, “beware the ides of March.”

Who else paid the price on the Ides of March?

Aside from its historical connection the Ides of March would have resonated with English citizens in 1599, the year Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar was probably performed.

The whole business of the Ides of March and timekeeping in the play would have a strong impact on audiences.

In Roman times the Ides of March was most notable as a deadline for settling debts.

The calendar featured ides on the 15th in March, May, July, and October or on the 13th of other months.  The words Latin roots mean “divide,” and the date sought to split the month, originally at the rise of the full moon.

But because calendar months and the lunar cycle are slightly out of sync, this connection was too soon lost.

Ides of March Assassins:  Heroes or Murderers?

After Caesars assassination the Ides of March took on a special significance but the observance of the anniversary at the time varied among Roman citizens.

How they felt depended on their political position.

Whether they were heroes or murderers, the real life Ides of March assassins were subjected to less than pleasant outcomes.  Within a couple of years Brutus and Cassius were dead.

They were not able to bring back the republic which is what they had intended and really what they did was usher in more of a permanent dictatorship under the future Roman emperors.  The exact opposite of what was intended.

Today is International Women’s Day

The first protest march against the terrible conditions under which women worked in the textile and garment industries of the United States was held on March 8, 1857, in New York City.  American women have decided that the anniversary of the march is a good time to honor women’s achievements and remember their goals.

You’ve come a long way baby.  Women in the United States no longer fight for their right to vote.  We have pretty much proved that we can be elected to and hold public office, although some campaigns waged against them have sexist overtones.  Yet, we still fight a language bias insisting on Chairperson as opposed to Chairman.  Though it seems silly at times, it has raised public awareness.

Women still have to fight other battles.  At present, there is supposed to be legal protection against equal pay for equal work, but these laws are not always enforced.  Women must still fight this battle.  Discrimination against women in the hiring and promotion process is against the law also, but there still exists the “glass ceiling” in upper level jobs and plain prejudice in lower-level ones.  Women are fighting the battle of sexual harassment, too, at work, in school, and in public places.  These and other battles wage on.

Notable quotes by women:

  • “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it.  I want to have lived the width as well.”  —Diane Ackerman, quoted in Newsweek
  • “Deliver me from your cold phlegmatic preachers, politicians, friends, lovers, and husbands.”  —Abigail Adams, a letter to John Adams.
  • “Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation.”  —Susan B. Anthony, on the campaign for Divorce Law reform.
  • “She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older-the natural sequence of an unnatural events.”  —Jane Austin, Persuasion.
  • “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.”  —Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex.

How many notable women do you know?  Try the quiz below:


Groundbreaking Women Quiz
Instructions: Use reference materials and the Internet to answer the questions below. Read the question and circle the correct answer.

1) Former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins (1880-1965) was the first woman to be appointed to a presidential cabinet. Which leader did she serve under?
a. Franklin D. Roosevelt
b. John F. Kennedy
c. Calvin Coolidge

2) Who was the first woman to run for vice-president on a major party ticket?
a. Sarah Palin
b. Geraldine Ferraro
c. Patsy Mink

3) Which of these women made advancements of astronomical proportions in June 1963, when she became the first woman in space?
a. Sally Ride
b. Valentina Tereshkova
c. Eileen Collins

4) Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927), a colorful reformer who advocated woman suffrage, free love, and socialism, was the first American woman to run for president. In which election was she a candidate?
a. 1872
b. 1900
c. 1912

5) Which scientist won two Nobel Prizes?
a. Linda Buck
b. Barbara McClintock
c. Marie Curie