Anyone who has read about Julius Caesar will more than likely know about the “beware the Ides of March” line, yet very few can probably tell you to which date actually that pertains. It is one of those dates that goes back in history, but which has become something of a pop culture reference. There are probably even some who believe that there is no such date as the Ides of March, but there is indeed, so let’s get you up to speed on what it is all about.
The Ides of March appeared on the Roman calendar and would essentially be March 15th as we read our calendars today. While the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC on that date is what it is best known for, the Ides of March has other significant events that take place on that date.
Ancient Romans would hold a festival on this day in celebration of Anna Perenna, a character who appeared in a much loved work by the poet Ovid. It is a tragic tale, to be sure, and one that does little to detract from the negative connotations attributed to the Ides of March to this present day.
While March is the third month of the year in our modern calendar, the Romans very much viewed it as the beginning of a New Year, which may also explain why a festival would be added to this particular date on their calendar. It was the assassination of Caesar, though, that has helped keep the Ides in the minds of people to this day.
It is not the only event occurring on that day, though, as there was also another ancient festival that took place around that time, with this particular one devoted to the god Mars.
We look at March 15th in a more positive light nowadays, most commonly because it means that spring is right around the corner. We also have our own festival of sorts around that time, as it is only a couple of days away from when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, as well as also being around the time when the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament gets underway. While there is obviously no connection between any of these events, it is still somewhat telling that so many different things take place in and around the Ides of March.
Back in ancient times, there was very much a religious connection to the Ides, with the entire month being considered sacred to Jupiter. Many of the sacred rituals and festivals that have taken place throughout history during this time can be attributed to the aforementioned fact that older calendars had the Ides of March being the equivalent of our New Year’s Day.
It is a month and a time that has a lot of history attached to it, yet it is the assassination of Caesar that will most likely keep the date alive for future generations. Et tu, Brute?
Rumor Has It …
… that Julius Caesar was not actually killed by Brutus but was actually assassinated via Wet Willie by an evil-doer named Judas Milhouse Booth.