We’ve all heard the phrase “Beware the Ides of March!” Why beware of March 15? We actually get the phrase from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar (1601), where a soothsayer tells Caesar to beware that day. It was, of course, the day he was assassinated in 44 BCE. As a person who took four years of Latin in high school, I couldn’t let the date go unremarked.
According to The Phrase Finder, the months of the Roman calendar were arranged around three named days – the Kalends, the Nones and the Ides– and these were reference points from which the other (unnamed) days were calculated:
Kalends (1st day of the month).
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months).
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months).
I also read that March 15 was the original day taxes were due in the US until that was pushed to April. Another good reason to beware!
Of course, you can find things of historical significance on any day of the year, but here are a few things that have happened on March 15
- In 1889 a cyclone struck in Samoa destroying six warships, killing 200 sailors.
- In 1917, Czar Nicholas II abdicated his throne.
- In 1941, a blizzard struck the Great Plains, leaving more than 60 dead.
- In 1952, the highest amount of rainfall in a 24 hour period fell on the Indian Ocean – over 73 inches!
- In 1971, CBS canceled the Ed Sullivan show. (For those of you who didn’t grow up with this show, it is important if only for introducing the Beatles to an American audience.)
So a happy March 15th to you!
Quotes by Julius Caesar
Many of you wished me dead. Many of you perhaps still do. But I hold no grudges and seek no revenge. I demand only this…that you join with me in building a new Rome, a Rome that offers justice, peace and land to all its citizens, not just the privileged few. Support me in this task, and old divisions will be forgotten. Oppose me, and Rome will not forgive you a second time. Senators, the war is over.
And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind is closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and do it gladly so.
As a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are.
He conquers twice, who shows mercy to the conquered.
I love the name of honor, more than I fear death.
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures.
The difference between a republic and an empire is the loyalty of one’s army.
A coward dies a thousand deaths, the gallant never taste of death but once.
What we wish, we readily believe, and what we ourselves think, we imagine others think also.
Men willingly believe what they wish.
I had rather be first in a village than second at Rome.
Which death is preferable to every other? The unexpected.
I came to Rome when it was a city of stone … and left it a city of marble.
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