Beware the Ides of March.
Those are words we know thanks, in part, to Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” and the scene where an unknown soothsayer emerges from a crowd and warns Caesar to “Beware the ides of March.” If you paid attention in your literature class, you might remember the Ides in 44 BC marked the assassination of Julius Caesar. This event led to a crisis in the Roman Republic and preceded the Roman Civil War.
The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar and corresponds to March 15. For Romans, the Ides marked several religious observances and served as a deadline for settling debts. It seems some believed Caesar had it coming. Even worse, the Ides often corresponded to a full moon, which triggered more omens.
But according to Barry Strauss in his book “The Death of Caesar,” some things we think we know aren’t exactly true. For example, the “unknown soothsayer” was an Etruscan named Spurinna who delivered Caesar’s warning on February 15, 44 BC. She cautioned Caesar to “Beware the next 30 days.”
“Et tu, Brute?” (You too, Brutus?) You can chalk this up to a little Shakespearean poetic license. Strauss reminds us that Caesar was a trained soldier. As such, Caesar would have fought for his life and tried to escape the ambush. It is unlikely he ever uttered these words.
Furthermore, the idea that Brutus was Caesar’s best friend and led the assassination is also not quite true. There were three conspirators: Brutus, Cassius, and Decimus. Decimus was known to be most trusted by Caesar, and historians believe he was the leader of the murder conspiracy.
So, where is Julius Caesar buried? If you are interested, our friend Ron Current has an excellent two-part series titled THE ROMAN FORUM: SEARCHING FOR CAESAR’S GRAVE.
Now I’m off to write a scene filled with betrayal and mayhem.
Did you write yesterday? Are you writing today?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer