Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's the Ides of March Again

Julius Caesar The Ides of March: A Novel

No one in my real world life--except my husband--has understood my Ides of March references this week. Am I really that much of a literary geek? So I had to repost from last year because I know there will be some kindred spirits here...

From last year's Ides of March post:

I couldn't resist. This day gives my literary soul a bigger shiver than most Friday the 13ths although I don't claim to be much of a superstitious person. Mostly it's just fun to notice--unless something bad does happen! Then we can blame it all on the calendar...

From The Old Farmer's Almanac:

The Ides of March has long been considered an ill-fated day. Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C. Historians note that it is likely that a soothsayer named Spurinna had warned Caesar that danger would occur by the ides of March. William Shakespeare included the phrase "Beware the ides of March" in his play Julius Caesar.

The ides were the 15th days of four months (Martius, or March; Maius, or May; Quintilis, or July; and October) in the ancient Roman lunar calendar; they were the 13th in all other months (originally, Aprilis, or April; Iunius, or June; Sextilis, or August; September; November; and December. Ianuarius, or January, and Februarius, or February, were added later).

The word ides comes from the Latin word idus, which is possibly derived from an Etruscan word meaning "to divide." The ides were originally meant to mark the full Moon (the "halfway point" of a lunar month), but because the Roman calendar months and actual lunar months were of different lengths, they quickly got out of step. The ancient Romans considered the day after the calends (first of the month), nones (ninth day before the ides, inclusive), or ides of any month as unfavorable. These were called dies atri.

Added from last year, the original Shakespeare:

Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15-19
And, then, you know, he was killed. So good warning...

1 comment:

  1. I love that play!

    My brother's birthday is March 15, I always teased him about that as a kid, being born on the Ides of march!