Posted on March 15, 2015
Every once in a while, you hear about the Ides of March, or you hear a line: “Beware the Ides of March.” There is even a 2011 movie named The Ides of March.
What exactly ARE the Ides of March?
It is a day on the Ancient Roman calendar that corresponds to our modern March 15. It was the date of some religious ceremonies, including a procession with the “Ides sheep” and a sacrifice of the sheep. There was a feast and a festival to celebrate the the new year, and later on the holiday evolved to become the first day of a holy week that ended with the date of the spring equinox (one of two days of the year when day and night are equal in length).
So—what should anyone “beware of” during all this feasting and merrymaking?
The Ides of March are now best known as the date on which Julius Caesar, one of the most influential rulers of Ancient Rome, was assassinated in 44 BCE. He was assassinated in a very public way – stabbed to death at a meeting of the senate – and it was his as many as 60 of his own “friends” and fellow statesmen who conspired against and attacked him.
According to Greek historian Plutarch, who lived about a century after Caesar died, Caesar was warned by a “seer” (someone who supposedly predicts the future) that he would be harmed no later than the Ides of March. Shakespeare dramatized this prediction in his play Julius Caesar, and put in the seer's mouth the famous words, “Beware the Ides of March.”
- Learn more about Ancient Rome on History for Kids.
- Learn more about Julius Caesar on Ducksters.
- You might want to check out Shakespeare's play “Julius Caesar,” found here on Spark Notes.
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