Why is March 15th considered the Ides of March?
The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point 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)
So, why was Caesar warned to beware of the ides of March?
Caesar was appointed Roman consul and dictator, but before settling in Rome he traveled around the empire for several years and consolidated his rule. In 45 B.C., he returned to Rome and was made dictator for life. He was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C., by a group of conspirators who believed that his death would lead to the restoration of the Roman Republic. However, the result of the “Ides of March” was to plunge Rome into a fresh round of civil wars, out of which Octavian, Caesar’s grand-nephew, would emerge as Augustus, the first Roman emperor, destroying the republic forever.
Shakespeare immortalized this day in his play Julius Caesar. And though murder should not be celebrated, we somehow still find ways to make light of this day. Case in point, my co-workers fully expect me to quote Shakespeare, or more to the point, Julius Caesar all day. With that un mind I thought I’d share 10 one-line quotes you can use in the office today. Beware, over use may lead to an insurrection.
- “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” …
- “Cowards die many times before their deaths; …
- “Men at some time are masters of their fates. …
- “Et tu, Brute?” …
- “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” …
- “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
- Beware the ides of March.
- You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
- “What a terrible era in which idiots govern the blind.”
- “But, for my own part, it was Greek to me.”
Works cited (Because yes, my finger is still wrapped up tight)
infoplease.org The Ides of March
History.com Julius Caesar
2 thoughts on “The Ides of March or how to annoy your co-workers today”
I always think of the William Shatner “No Tears For Caesar” rap at the end of the movie “Free Enterprise.” It’s classic!
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OK, I’m late to the party. I spent the day getting my aged mother to the emergency ward. (She’s not dead yet. She got better. Thank you, Monty Python.) Assuming I get enough people enrolled, I’ll actually be teaching a short course this summer on the fall of the Roman Republic, in which Caesar’s assassination plays so memorable a role. Though I probably will not reach the emotional effectiveness of now retired Prof. Carlin Barton, who it was said would be in tears while teaching about the Ides of March to her undergraduates.
Now there’s an idea: what Shakespeare plays should be read back to back, and why? “Julius Caesar” and “Anthony and Cleopatra,” for the events of the first lead to the second. Or how about “Coriolanus” and “Titus Andronicus,” because they’re both about Romans who overdo the patriotism?