Today, March 15, marks the “Ides of March”—a holiday associated with the death of Julius Caesar. But what does the holiday traditionally mean? An “Ides” is traditionally the appearance of a full moon, but after the assassination of Caesar on that date (for which he was warned by a Roman soothsayer “Beware, beware the Ides of March”—which he didn’t heed), the date became permanently associated with the death of kings and emperors.
What exactly is an “Ide” anyway? Well, if you were an ancient Roman, an Ide referred to the appearance of a full moon. But, on March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated and the “Ides of March” became more than just planetary observations.
The Ides became a warning to future leaders, Charles McNelis, an assistant professor of classics at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., explained to National Geographic. Octavian, Caesar’s heir who was also known as Imperator Caesar Augustus, “seems to have been aware of the problems of presenting himself as Caesar had… The Ides became a lesson in political self-presentation,” McNelis said to National Geographic.
Historians say Julius Caesar’s desire to be a dictator for life and to be worshiped as a deity did not sit well with many in Rome.
Wikipedia also relates the traditional history:
The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii) is the name of 15 March in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months. The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators.
On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar saw a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him not later than the Ides of March. Caesar joked, “Well, the Ides of March have come”, to which the seer replied “Ay, they have come, but they are not gone.” This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March.”
What do you think—does this date deserve its bad reputation?