Ides

March 16, 2022

While yesterday was the Ides of March, I did not want to write about it on the actual day.  Some might think I was waiting to see what happened before I put pen to paper.  Afterall, you never really know, right?  Your best friend might decide to stab you in the back (literally).  Obviously, that did not happen, or I would not still be blogging today.  I have always been intrigued by what “ides” meant.  I have heard that anything I really care about, I would research to find out what it meant.  While I am not sure “ides” meets those criteria, I decided to look it up anyway.

When I looked online, I found the definition of ides refers to the 15th day of March, May, July, or October or the 13th day of any other eight months in the ancient Roman calendar.  This can also broadly refer to this day and the seven days preceding it.  The Romans did not number each day of a month from the first to the last day.  Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (the 5th or 7th, nine days inclusive before the Ides), the Ides (the 13th for most months, but the 15th in March, May, July, and October), and the Kalends (1st of the following month).  Originally the Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, reflecting the lunar origin of the Roman calendar.  In the earliest calendar, the Ides of March would have been the first full moon of the new year.  Now I know.

Today, the Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE.  Caesar was at a meeting of the Senate when as many as 60 conspirators stabbed him to death, including Brutus and Cassius.  According to Plutarch (Roman historian), a seer had warned Caesar that harm would come to him on the Ides of March.  On his way to the Theatre of Pompey where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and laughed, “Well, the Ides of March are come”, implying that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied “Aye, they are come, but they are not gone.”  This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March.” 

THOUGHTS:  Caesar’s death triggered the civil war that resulted in the rise to sole power of his adopted heir Octavian (later called Augustus).  On the fourth anniversary of Caesar’s death in 40 BCE Octavian executed 300 senators who fought against him to avenge Caesar’s death.  Perhaps there is more to beware in the ides than we might think.  Unlike Caesar and Octavian, we need to pay more attention to what is to come than what has gone before.  We have no ability to change what has happened.  However, our attitude and response directly impact what is to occur.  We cannot forget history, but we can use history to make better choices in the future.  Do the work.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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