What’s the Story Behind the Term ’The Ides of March?’
Welcome to March 15, a day steeped in a connotation of doom and gloom, but why, exactly?
It was William Shakespear who introduced the world to the term “beware the ides of March,” a phrase uttered to Julius Caesar by a fortune teller in Shakespeare's play, “Beware the Ides of March.”
What Led to March 15 Being a Bloodbath?
March 15 is the day that Julius Caesar, (the much loved by the public) dictator of Rome, was stabbed to death by upward of sixty conspirators who really, really didn't like how arrogant Caesar was and decided to do something about it during a meeting of the Senate. The desire to snuff out the man they found to be overwhelmingly arrogant backfired though because it caused an uproar with the people of Rome who were disgusted with the actions of the assains and all sorts of chaos erupted following Caesar's death. The death of Caesar also led way to the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Roman Empire.
What Does the Word "Ides" Mean?
In ancient times the "Ides" is what the Romans used as a marker name to divide each month. According to Phrases.org, “Months of the Roman calendar were arranged around three named marker days - the Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides - and these were reference points from which the other (unnamed) days were calculated.” The Romans used the word “Kalends” to note the first day of the month, “Nones” was used to mark the 7th day in the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 5th day in the other months. And then there was “Ides” which marked the 15th day in March, May, July, and October and the 13th day in all of the other months.
Who Made the Term "Ides of March" Popular?
While somewhat confusing to us because this isn't the way we mark months and days, the average Roman citizen in ancient times knew that if someone said, "Ides of March," they were talking about March 15. So, when the fortune teller warned Julius Caesar in the Shakespeare play to "beware the Ides of March," it was a warning to him that bad things were coming his way.
What started out as an innocent way of saying, March 15, turned into a day that many believe swirls with doom and gloom because of what happened to Julius Caesar all the way back in 44 B.C.
Do People Really "Observe" the Ides of March?
If you cling to whatever you can as an excuse to celebrate whenever possible, you can celebrate the Ides of March by drinking a glass of wine. The ancient Romans were said to have loved wine and drank it with most, if not all, of their meals. So, pour a glass and raise a toast to Julius Caesar.