What are the Ides of March?
The Ides of March fall on March 15, the date becoming intimately associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar, who was murdered in the Roman Senate on the same date in 44 BC.
Because the death of Caesar marked a radical change in Roman society, the time is familiar to most scholars of Western history, along with fans of William Shakespeare, who remember the line “Beware the Ides of March”, from his play Julius Caesar.
In modern days, the date carries a sense of menace and doom, because of this association.
However, originally, the Ides of March carried no special meaning; it was merely part of the Roman calendar. The days of each month used to be counted in relationship to Kalends, the first day of the month, Nones, the seventh day, and Ides, which fell in the middle of the month – somewhere between the 13th and the 15th, depending on the month.Usually, Ides fell during the full moon, and it was actually an auspicious day in Roman society. This may explain why Caesar did not heed the warning of an anonymous soothsayer. The terms Kalends, Ides, and Nones were used in various parts of Europe through the Renaissance before being abandoned, and William Shakespeare’s original audience probably would not have found his phrase at all remarkable.
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