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The Ides of March

Updated on March 5, 2010
The Ides of March
The Ides of March

Idus Mortias

Idus Mortias, Latin for the Ides of March, is the name given to March 15 on the Roman calendar.  However, the term Ides of March is well known for its more forbidden meaning as March 15 was the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated.  For anyone who has read Shakespeare, you must always beware of the Ides of March.

The Ides of March Really Just Means March 15
The Ides of March Really Just Means March 15

Actual Meaning

In reality, the Ides of March is nothing to be wary of or anything that needs warning.  The term Ides come from the early Roman calendar.  The ancient Roman calendar was organized around three certain days of the month.  The Kalends referred to the first day of the month.  The Nones referred to the 7th day of the month in March, May, July and October and the 5th of the month in all the other months.  Ides referred to the 15th of the month in March, May, July and October and the 13th in the month in all the other months.  Therefore, Ides was simply the term placed on the middle day of the month. When you think about it, there is nothing really scary about that.

March 15 Marks The Date Of The Assassination of Caesar
March 15 Marks The Date Of The Assassination of Caesar

Caesar and Shakespeare

The foreboding tone of the Ides of March comes from the Ancient Romans as well.  March 15 was the date in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Senate.  Caesar was to appear on the Senate floor to give a speech.  A group of Senators had plotted together to assassinate Caesar and when he arrived at the Senate he was led to a room adjacent to the Senate floor.  There, Caesar was encircled by Senators, including Brutus, as was stabbed 23 times. 

 

William Shakespeare's Telling Of The Story Is More Well Known Than Reality
William Shakespeare's Telling Of The Story Is More Well Known Than Reality

The Drama

While this story is dramatic by itself, the assassination of Caesar and the current meaning of the term Ides of March was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar. Shakespeare’s play tells the story of the plot to kill Caesar, the assassination and its aftermath. In the play, a soothsayer warns the Roman dictator to “beware the Ides of March.” This of course foreshadowed the assassination of Caesar that took place on March 15. Upon his dying in the play, Caesar famously was quoted “et tu Brute,” words that historians doubt were said by Caesar in real life but will be forever tied to him thanks to Shakespeare.

The Only Person That Should Beware Of The Ides Of March Was Caesar Himself
The Only Person That Should Beware Of The Ides Of March Was Caesar Himself

Just another day

Because of Shakespeare’s play, the term Ides of March carries with it a forbidding tone. However, in reality, the Ides of March is just another day on the ancient Roman calendar. Today, March 15 is not known for anything other than the death of Julius Caesar and this was due to the writings of William Shakespeare.

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    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Fair point. Thanks for the commnet.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I agree that we would not beinterested in that date without the play from Shakespeare. Problemis that we have so many dates to remember, we lose interest in all of them.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      High praise coming from you and I appreciate it. I agree, Hamlet was better. Caesar was never one of my favorites.

      Thanks for reading

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Shakespeare was the greatest. Julius Caesar was good, but Hamlet was the best. Enjoyed this. Thank you, bgpappa.