So warned the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s famous play. Alas poor Julius — he did not heed the advice, went against his own instincts and was stabbed to death in the senate. The bloody, infamous event occurred on March 15, 44 B.C.
Have you ever wondered what the ‘Ides’ of March actually means?
It was a designation for the middle of a month. Apparently, the ancient Romans did not number days of a month sequentially from first through last day. Instead, they divided the month and counted days from three specific points. These points were called the Nones (5th -7th of the month) the Ides (13th to 15th) and the Kalends (1st of the following month).
The divisions were determined by the full moon, which normally occurred between the 13th and 15th of the month. Thus the Roman senate would have actually gone ‘loony’ under the full moon. (We just had our full moon on March 12, so the 2017 measurement is not too far off!)
After the death of Caesar, the 15th of March seemed to carry its own specific dark cloud. Many other tragedies have occurred on this day. For example:
A Raid on Southern England, 1360
A French raiding party began a 48-hour spree of rape, pillage and murder in southern England. King Edward III interrupted his own pillaging spree in France to retaliate.
Czar Nicholas II Abdicated His Throne, 1917 Czar Nicholas II of Russia signed his abdication papers, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty. Enter the Bolsheviks!
Germany Occupied Czechoslovakia, 1939
Nazi troops seized the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, effectively wiping Czechoslovakia off the map. The beginning of Hitler’s destruction.
A Deadly Blizzard on the Great Plains, 1941
A Saturday-night blizzard struck the northern Great Plains, leaving at least 60 people dead in North Dakota and Minnesota and six more in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
World Record Rainfall, 1952
Rain fell on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion—and kept falling, hard enough to register the world’s most voluminous 24-hour rainfall: 73.62 inches. Reportedly, no arks were built 🙂
CBS Cancelled the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 1971
CBS-TV cancelled “The Ed Sullivan Show” after 23 years on the network. Ed brought us the Beatles!
But it need not be all doom and gloom.
If you are looking to brush up on Julius Caesar, or just want to view some beautiful cinematography and great acting, I recommend this (somewhat lengthy) but very entertaining film. Shown as a miniseries in 2002, it stars Jeremy Sisto as Caesar, with a supporting cast that includes Christopher Walken, Richard Harris and Christopher Noth. Running time is 3 hours. Hope you get a chance to watch!
Happy Ides of March!