Head’s up as “The Ides of March are come”

Lisa Goudy
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“Beware the Ides of March.”

Lisa Goudy

The phrase from William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, is a famous one. On the Roman calendar, it corresponds to March 15. The reason we know the day is because on March 15 associated with the date of Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C.

Conspirators stabbed the dictator to death before the Roman senate. Marcus Junius Brutus, who was a part of Caesar’s inner circle, led the approximately 60 conspirators involved. Caesar’s death triggered the civil war.

Caesar ruled Rome until that date and he had replaced the traditional Republican government with a temporary dictatorship. He wished to make it permanent and that led to the conspiracy to have him killed.

Nevertheless, the Ides of March have been associated with prophecies of doom ever since. Even if we don’t know why, many of us know the phrase and about when it takes place.

One event on this date changed everything. It changed how people view March 15 and have for centuries. And it’s also why some people might be inclined to pay attention to things that happen on that date.

Now, I’m not a superstitious person and I never have been. But I found an interesting article online relating to the Ides of March. The Smithsonian Magazine published an article called, “Top Ten Reasons to Beware the Ides of March.” It listed 10 events that happened on March 15 in history.

Of course, Caesar’s assassination topped the list. Other events included: a raid on southern England in 1360; the Samoan cyclone in 1889 that killed 200 sailors in the Samoa harbour; Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his throne in 1917, which ended a 304-year-old royal dynasty; and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939.

More events included a deadly blizzard on the Great Plaints, leaving 60 people dead in North Dakota and Minnesota as well as six in Manitoba and Saskatchewan; a world record rainfall in 1952 on the Indian Ocean at 73.62 inches in 24 hours; the cancellation of the Ed Sullivan Show in 1971; the NASA report that the ozone layer over the northern hemisphere has depleted three times faster than anticipated; and a new global health scare in 2003, which soon became known as Sudden Acute Respiratory System (SARS).

Of course, I believe the date March 15 has nothing to do with these events. Still, it’s fun to think about and certainly interesting to read.

For the superstitious folks or for anyone with a good imagination, seeing as tomorrow is the Ides of March, be careful not to get stuck in a pothole somewhere or trip and fall in a puddle.

And don’t make Caesar’s mistake as he did in Shakespeare’s dramatization of Caesar’s assassination. In Act III, Scene 1, Caesar says, “The ides of March are come.” The soothsayer, who is responsible for the warning of the Ides of March, replies, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone.”

Lo, by the end of the day, Caesar was assassinated.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Smithsonian Magazine, NASA, Sudden Acute Respiratory System

Geographic location: Rome, Southern England, Samoa Czechoslovakia North Dakota Minnesota Manitoba Saskatchewan Indian Ocean Shakespeare

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Recent comments

  • Ralph Krueger
    March 15, 2014 - 16:59

    I always felt that it was appropriate that the deadline for filing Federal Income Tax Returns was on March 15 and I was rather disappointed when it was changed to April 15 in 1955.