Beware The Ides Of March? Yes, If You're Caesar

Beware The Ides Of March. Is March 15really an evil day to beware? Ummm...No.

The soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March," has forever embedded March 15 in our culture with a sense of evil and foreboding. But in Roman times the expression "Ides of March" did not necessarily evoke a dark mood. It was only the Roman way of saying "March 15". Even in Shakespeare's time, sixteen centuries later, audiences attending his play Julius Caesar wouldn't have blinked twice upon hearing The Ides of March.

Legend has it that Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome, also devised the first calender. The term "Ides" only signified the middle day of each month. There were three terms used as reference points for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)

Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)

Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)

The remaining days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. Not wanting to change things that are extremely confusing, this system was used all the way through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 BC, after declaring himself dictator of Rome for life. Caesar summoned the Senate to meet in the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March. A soothsayer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the Ides of March, and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: "The Ides of March has come", to which the seer replied: "Aye Caesar, but not gone".As the Senate convened, Caesar was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of senators.

So, if your name is Julius Caesar, Beware the Ides of March. Otherwise, rest easy fellow Romans.


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