Who’s Afraid of The Ides of March?

Today is, or begins, the Ides of March depending on which interpretation one follows. While the only person in recorded history whose demise is connected to the date (s) Julius Caesar, there is no reason for any of us to take chances what with spring just around the corner.

The initial problem with The Ides is grammatical in that the term is singular and can be used only with a singular verb. The Ides is is correct while The Ides are is hillbilly talk.

When attempting to examine The Ides, most reference is to the assassinated Roman Emperor brought back to life by William Shakespeare in his tragic 1600 play, Julius Caesar.  Here he coined the term The Ides of March in order to amaze and frighten the English peasantry, who populated most of his weekend audience.

Along with all this ascribing to Caesar, we found little mention of much else: a Thornton Wilder novel and the website of Ides Inc., a plastic materials information managements company. Despite the fact that Czar Nicholas abdicated on March 15, 1917 Julius Caesar has corned the market on The Ides which have become synonymous with the offing of this particular dictator 2050 years ago.**

Robert Krulwich, of National Public Radio suggests that the hit men themselves celebrated the successful coup by singing Roman beer drinking songs such as 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall using Roman numerals. The thought of swooning Roman senators belting out mathematically challenging tunes at what he calls an “Apres Slaying Party” is certainly a possibility. However, did they do it before or after a trip to the vomitorium?

Precautions taken for The Ides should be simple and direct. Experts suggest that if one must leave the house he should not mingle with congregating bodies of politicians in strange haircuts. In addition, he should particularly avoid government buildings with marble steps and columns. Do not respond to invitations from anyone named Brutus, Cassias, Boomer, Portia or Bluto. Cease your power trips. They may provoke violence on the part of already, agitated colleagues.

And don’t go anywhere wearing only a flimsy toga. It may be starting to look warm outside but it’s still winter and you could freeze your arse.

Getting back to the scene at the Forum, it is apparent from his arrival from Gaul that Caesar is about to go under the knife.  It is likewise clear that Brutus orchestrated the murder with the help of Ligarius and Trebonius (who allegedly preferred piano wire to knives) while Cassias was only supposed to drive the getaway chariot.

The plan itself was childish. Had leaders like Cicero and Publius not been out campaigning or investigating the ethics of their colleagues in the senate they might have long in advance ferreted out the planned attack and called the Praetorian Guard. They might have blamed the whole attempt on Gaelic terrorists and bumped up the military ante. God only knows the Gauls had a motive to waste Caesar after all that reconnoitering up north.

But alas, poor Caesar.

*Hereafter we will refer to the Ides of March as The Ides because we want to. The Ides are the 15th day of March, May, July and October and the 13h day of the other months. The Ides of March is the first day of spring.

**Of note: there is the instrumental, The Ides of March, by Iron Maiden from the album Killer acknowledging the event.

Filed Under: Soft News


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