Beware The Ides Of March — Once You Know What They Are

Glenn Brock - Author

Mar. 15 2015, Updated 7:56 p.m. ET

The Ides of March, a historic day sandwiched between Pi Day and St. Patrick’s Day. But what, exactly, do the Ides of March mean to anyone but Julius Caesar?

According to Vox, the Ides are simply the middle of the month. According to the Roman Calendar and how it breaks down, the Ides were sandwiched between the Calends, or beginning, and the Nones, or the end. And March was the first month in the Roman Calendar. The Ides followed the patterns of the Moon, which usually was a full moon on the 13th day or 15th day of the month.

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So, when the soothsayer told Julius Caesar to beware the Ides of March, what exactly was the warning about? According to Barry Strauss, a history professor at Cornell University and the author of The Death Of Caesar, says there was much more to the warning than a simple “Watch your back.”

Strauss says that the soothsayer was an Etruscan named Spurinna. Etruscans were known to specialize in divination. Spurinna’s involvement began on February 15, when he came across a heartless bull. No one is sure if the bull was born without a heart, or if the sign was just creative license deployed by Spurinna. Thus, Spurinna warned Caesar to be careful, since the Roman political climate was changing.

One other piece of information lends credence to Strauss’ contention: Caesar was to begin a campaign to add more lands to Rome. He was to leave on March 18. Those plotting against Caesar had to plan quickly, and ended his reign and life on March 15.

According to Tech Times, Strauss’ book delved deeper into the Roman Calendar meaning. Spurinna knew there would be some kind of upheaval due to the Ides, since this Ides of March was the first full moon of the new Roman Calendar year. Spurinna’s warning could have taken on different meanings, but the soothsayer was trying to warn Caesar that some political upheaval was forthcoming. Caesar, feeling himself indestructible, eschewed Spurinna’s warning.

It was then that, according to Strauss, the main senator conspirators, Marcus Brutus, Cassius Longinus, and a third possible conspirator, Decimus Brutus, convinced a group of senators to end Caesar’s dictatorship, and subsequently, his life. Casear was murdered at the theater of Pompeii.

So, what does this all mean? Simply, Spurinna was doing his job, telling the boss Caesar to watch out, and the dictator thinking himself too powerful to be destroyed. Unfortunately for Caesar, the Ides of March proved be his downfall, one he could have corrected.

[Image courtesy of Motherboard]


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