March 15th is known as the Ides of March. It’s a day that has become synonymous with betrayal and tragedy.
What is the Ides of March, and why is it infamous?
The Ides of March is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to March 15th.
After changing their calendar system multiple times, the ancient Romans eventually divided into three parts:
– The Kalends (the 1st day of all months).
– The Nones (the 7th of March, May, July, and October, and the 5th of other months).
– The Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months).
Today, we associate the Ides of March with Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE. Interestingly, they were also a day set aside for settling debts in ancient Rome.
On that day, a group of senators, including Brutus and Cassius, stabbed Caesar 23 times. He died on the steps of the Roman Senate.
The senators believed he had become too powerful and, as a result, posed a threat to Roman Republican rule. One of the “offenses” Casear committed was to further change the calendar. While he theoretically redesigned it to match up better with the seasons and moon cycles, it also benefitted him politically.
Why choose March 15th?
According to JSTOR Daily (cited below, and which provides more popularized accounts of academic articles):
“While it’s commonly believed that the date of Caesar’s assassination was one chosen based on expediency and proximity—he would be leaving three days later for a potentially long military campaign against Parthia, and the Senate would meet on the Ides, thus putting Caesar within reach of the conspirators—one scholar argues that the date was also one that held symbolic meaning for Brutus, Cassius and the other assassins, and that the calendar reform may have been a “last straw” for them, symbolizing the rejection of the sacred traditions of Rome, the mos maiorum, not unlike if a US president were to sit during the National Anthem.”
What is the legacy of March 15th, 44 BCE?
Julius Caesar’s assassination was certainly a turning point for Rome and changed its political future. It may remind us that even the most powerful leaders are not invincible. Or that ambition can lead to tragic outcomes. It has long served as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked power and the consequences of betraying one’s ideals.
You likely know that William Shakespeare immortalized the Ides in his play “Julius Caesar.” It famously warns us to “beware the Ides of March” and the danger they represent.
Of course, depending on how you look at it, the Ides of March can also represent the resilience of the human spirit. After all, despite the tragedy of Caesar’s assassination, Rome continued to grow.