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Origins of Phrases and Idioms; "Beware the Ides of March"

Updated on January 20, 2012

Death of Julius Caesar, by Italian artist Vincenzo Camuccini, depicts the fateful day in 44 BC.

This is the fourth hub in a series called "Origin of Phrases and Idioms"; a search for the true meaning of idoms and phrases we may use on a daily basis but don't know exactly where they came from or their exact terms they were meant for.

If you would like to read my other "Origin of Phrases" hubs see the first one; "A Fool's Paradise" here, and the second one, "Gild the Lily" here, and the third; "One Fell Swoop" here.

Meaning

Abuse of power has its pitfalls, with a day of reckoning just up ahead. Beware...

Origin

The origin of the "Ides of March" goes back to 753 BC, whereas Roman writers claimed that their calendar was invented by Romulus, the founder of Rome. Then, the Romans counted backwards from three fixed points: the Nones, the Ides and the Kalends of the following month. The Ides were thought to have originally been the day of the full moon. The actual word ides stems from Latin, which most of our language does, meaning "half division" (of a month); or the 15th. So, the "Ides of March" is really the 15th of March.

  • Kalends is counted as the 1st day of the month by the Roman calender
  • Nones is counted as the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months.
  • Ides is counted as the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; with ides being the 13th in the other months).

"The Ides of March" also comes from Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar - 1601 where the oracle or fortune teller (or soothsayer) warns Julius of his death.

Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators.

A quote from Cicero's letters from the months after the Ides of March,

"The Ides changed everything."

The Ides of March was also known as a day of feasts to celebrate the god Mars and a military parade was usually held.

The Band "Ides of March" Videos

"Ides of March" by Silverstein video

Amazon Books on "Ides of March"

On Widipedia; "The Ides of March"

For the book (novel) titled the same "The Ides of March" by Thornton Wilder's  see The Ides of March (novel) on wikipedia.

If you'd like to check out information on the American rock-funk band, of the same name see The Ides of March (band) on wikipedia.

For other uses, see Ides of March(disambiguation) on wikipedia. 

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    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 

      8 years ago

      Excellent hub - I am familiar a bit about this with my wife and one of my brothers being born on April 13 but this is a very thorough hub - Awesome.

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