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.