The Ides of March - With Recipes
Beware the Ides of March
What happened on the Ides of March?
In modern times we know this as the date Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE. Perhaps not the happiest of days in history but, regardless of the outcome of that particular day for Gaius Julius, it's a good enough time to raise a toast to the legacy left to us by the people of Ancient Rome.
A fun-filled way for children to learn about the history of Rome and an excellent time foran Ancient Roman meal.
Ides of March Dinner in 2018
This year, the Ides of March fall on Thursday, a good enough date to have a small dinner in the evening.
There's no way an Ides of March dinner is upstaging St Patrick's Day, so Thursday is good. In any case, the day doesn't really matter, Caesar won't mind.
This is a perfect opportunity for me to share my interest in Ancient Rome with the grandchildren.
Serve a Platter of simple nibblies
- Hard boiled eggs
- Green salad leaves
- Feta cheese
Serve a simple ancient lunch - Adults can have a glass of wine too
It's simple to make an Ancient Roman meal - here's some quick and easy menu items
- Pita bread with falafel, olives and feta cheese
- Chopped apples with yogurt and honey
Ancient Roman style Chicken
Tell them it's dormouse
These chicken drumsticks are a very handy dish to prepare the day before.
Cover them with the marinade and pop them in the fridge.
After you've had them soaking in the fridge overnight, drop them on a tray and bake for about 30 minutes.
Tear a bit of parsley over the cooked drumsticks. Italian parsley of course
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: Marinate overnight then approx 30 minutes baking time
Serves: 8 Romans
- 8 Chicken drumsticks
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder
- tablespoon honey
- 2 bay leaves
- A little vegetable oil
Instructions for ancient Roman style chicken drumsticks
- Crush the cumin seeds using a mortar and pestle
- Put the flour in a plastic bag with the crushed cumin, bay leaves, caraway and paprika..
- Lightly dab some vegetable oil on the drumsticks Toss the drumsticks in the bag with the flour.
- Drop the honey into the bag. Give it a swirl around and leave the bag in the frig overnight so the flavours sink in.
- Place the drumsticks in a lightly oiled baking pan and bake for 20 - 30 mins, or until a skewer pushed into the thickest part releases only clear juice
Set an Ancient Roman Table
Cecina - Chickpea Patties
Traditional Ancient Roman fare
From La Cucina Siciliana this is a modern version of Cecina. You can make these tasty vegetarian fritters easily enough and your dinner guests will thank you for it.
It's called Panelle these days and I found it first in a street market in Palermo. Fantastico!
I've been making my own ever since.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6 - 8 Romans
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil plus more to fill a deep pan no more than halfway full
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Caciocavallo cheese
- Take a large pot, dissolve the chickpea flour in 2 cups water.
- Stir in 1/2 bunch chopped parsley, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, 1 sliced garlic clove and egg.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and continue mixing until ingredients combine to form a thick paste.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow the dough to cool.
- Place oil in large pan and heat
- With your palms, shape the chickpea flour dough into oval-shaped fritters, about 2 inches in length.
- Use a slotted spoon to gently drop spoonfuls of the fritters into the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil.
- Working in batches of 6, fry the fritters until golden brown.
- Using the same spoon, remove the finished fritters to a serving plate
- Garnish with parsley and cheese
What does 'Ides' mean?
The term Idus Martii was used for the 15th day of the month of March.
The Roman calendar was originally based on the first three phases of the moon, with days counted backwards from lunar phases. They didn't have the concept of a week as we count time.
Kalends = New Moon (no moon to be seen)
Nones = 1st quarter moon
Ides = Full Moon (whole moon visible in the night sky)
The Ides of March was in the middle of March, the month dedicated to Mars, a festive day with a military parade. A wild day, with the full moon bringing high tides and the seas succumbing to chaos. A good choice for a day of murder.
Why we say "Beware the Ides of March"
From Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
As Caesar walked through the city on his way to attend the Senate meeting, he was given advice.
Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue shriller than all the music. Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March
Caesar: What man is that?
Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March
On the Ides of March 44 BCE
On the Ides of March of 44 BCE Caesar was due to appear at a session of the Senate. Little did he realise a gang of murderers was waiting for him,
As he entered the Theatre of Pompey, a lovely building set in landscaped gardens full of fountains and statues, Julius could not know of the plot for his death.
The conspirators, with daggers in their togas and murder in their hearts, pushed up around Caesar.
He was stabbed 23 times.
It was an infamous and brutal act that brought the conspirators no joy. The result, unforeseen by the aristocratic assassins, was that Caesar's death precipitated the end of the Roman Republic
Et tu, Brute?
And you too, Brutus?
These words Et tu, Brute are always portrayed as Caesar's last words. Did he say them? No one really knows but it's possible Caesar did say this when he realised his young friend and mentoree was one of the assassins.
Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger made his fortune in Cyprus, loaning money at exorbitant rates of interest. He returned to Rome a very rich man and, on becoming a Senator, aligned himself with the conservative faction, the Optimates.
The Optimates, the 'Best Men', considered themselves noble, men who were truly born to rule. They had no time for plebians, ordinary citizens, they continually derided the extension of citizenship and loathed Caesar for his popular power..
These Optimates were the men who murdered Caesar.
Torre Argentina - Caesar was murdered here
Dress the part for Dinner
There's nothing like dressing up for dinner!
For an ancient Roman dinner you need, naturally, an ancient Roman costume. Most people think of a toga but not many people wore those, and they were only men. Rich men too.
There are some lovely comfortable clothes you can wear. Make some up yourself or get a specially-made costume.
© 2012 Susanna Duffy