Ides of March

Ides of March

The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae) is the name of the date 15 March in the Roman calendar. The term "ides" was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other eight months. [Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ides] In Roman times, the Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held.

In modern times, the term "Ides of March" is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated, in 44 BC, the story of which was famously dramatised in William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar". [William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene II] The term has come to be used as a metaphor for impending doom.


The term idūs (ides) is thought to have originally been the day of the full moon. The Romans considered this an auspicious day in their calendar (see Roman_calendar#Months). The word ides comes from Latin, meaning "half division" (of a month). The word is probably of non-Indoeuropean origin. ["Webster's Third New International Dictionary" (1986), Unabridged (Merriam-Webster Inc. Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.).]

Assassination of Julius Caesar

Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 BC, after declaring himself dictator for life of Rome. According to a near-contemporary biographer, Caesar summoned the Senate to meet in the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March. A certain soothsayer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the day of the month of March which the Romans call the Ides; and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: "The Ides of March has come," and the seer said to him softly: "Aye, Caesar, but not gone." [Plutarch, Parallel Lives, The Life of Julius Caesar]

As the Senate convened, Caesar was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of senators who called themselves the "Liberatores" ("Liberators"); they justified their action on the grounds that they committed tyrannicide and were preserving the Republic from Caesar's alleged monarchical ambitions.

Usage in modern popular culture

In Music

*Thee Mighty Caesars, a garage/punk group fronted by Billy Childish, named an LP "Beware the Ides of March" released in 1985.
* British heavy metal band Iron Maiden opened their second album (Killers) with an instrumental entitled "The Ides of March." The song was also covered by Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy in their album "Black Earth."
* In 1970, the American band The Ides of March had a number 2 hit on the Billboard charts with the song "Vehicle."
* In 2005, the Canadian band Silverstein released a song called "Ides of March" on the album "Discovering the Waterfront".
* In 1994, the American band Codeine released the song "Ides" on the album "The White Birch". A stripped down version of the song was released in March 1993 on a 7 inch single released by Simple Machines as part of their "Working Holiday" series of singles.
* The second track of 1972's Matching Mole's Little Red Record is named "Marchides".
*"Ides of March" is a song recorded by Guns N' Roses during their Chinese Democracy sessions
*Blues Traveler sings "one of these ides he's gonna break free" in the song "Regarding Steven".
*Death in June frontman Douglas Pearce sings the lyric "It's the Ides of March you ignore" on the title track of their "The Rule of Thirds" album.
*The song "Lenders in the Temple", by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, contains the lyric, "Watch your back, the ides of march. Cut your hair like Joan of Arc. Diguise your will, they'll find you out and when they do: watch your back"
* UK Hardcore band On Thin Ice have a song entitled "The Ides Of March"
* The song "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" by Progressive group The Mars Volta contains the line "Theses ides of march are they so make believe?"

In Film and Television

* In 1970, a Monty Python's Flying Circus episode entitled "The Spanish Inquisition" portrayed the assassination of Julius Caesar; however, the unknown seer warns him in morse code using an aldis lamp: "Beware, the Ides of March." With his last moments of life, Caesar uses a similar aldis lamp to signal "Et tu, brute?" The parody sketch was entitled "Julius Caesar On an Aldis Lamp."
*In the Weebl and Bob episode "history5", Bob tells Weebl to "beware the pies of march." He explains that it is currently December, and that "they've gone off by now."
*In The Simpsons episode "Homer the Great", Lisa warns Homer, "beware the Ides of March", after Homer claims he now knows he is God. Homer replies, "No!"
*In episode "Ides of March", Xena and Gabrielle are crucified on the Ides of March, and Caesar himself is murdered. It is Xena who utters the famous warning, however, she directs it to Brutus rather than Caesar.
*In the film The House of Yes, Parker Posey's character goes by the name Jackie-O ever since she attended an Ides of March party dressed as the former first lady.
*In the film Hairspray (2007 film), The character 'Brad' says "I get who Caesar was, but what are the Ideas of March? I mean how can a month have an idea?"
*In the film Back to the Future Part II, the date on the tombstone of Marty's father reveals that he was murdered on March 15th, the Ides of March.

Other References

* The internet group Anonymous used the phrase "beware the Ides of March" when referring to its then-upcoming March 15th, 2008 mass protest of the Church of Scientology.
* The Ides of March are celebrated every year by the Rome Hash House Harriers with a [ toga run] in the streets of Rome, in the same place where Julius Caesar was killed.
* A paperback reprint of material from MAD Magazine, from the late 1950s, is titled "The Ides of MAD".
* In Civilization IV, if the player is on poor terms with Julius Caesar and opens the diplomacy screen with him, Caesar will comically ask why the player is there and if it's "the Ides of March already".
* In "", if the player hits enter and types "Ides of March" into the opened chat bar and hits enter again, he will be taken to the final sequence in the current campaign.
* In the Reduced Shakespeare Company's version of "Julius Caesar", Adam Long (playing the seer) tells Reed Martin (playing Caesar) to beware the Ides of March, to which Caesar asks, confused, "What the hell are the Ides of March?"


* The Atlanta Chapter of the Dagorhir Battle Games Association hosts an annual spring event at Red Horse Stables on the weekend closest to the 15th of March. The event is appropriately named, "The Ides of March".
*Cao Cao, one of the greatest warlords of the Three Kingdoms Era of China, also died on the Ides of March in AD 220 and a year later the Kingdom of Shu Han was established by Liu Bei.
* Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his power as ruler on the Ides of March, 1917. It is mentioned in the film "Nicholas and Alexandra."
*American horror author HP Lovecraft also died on this day.
* In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, the lovers were married on this date.

ee also

*Roman calendar
*Julian calendar


External links

* [ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene II]
* [*.html Plutarch, The Parallel Lives, The Life of Julius Caesar]
* [ Nicolaus of Damascus, Life of Augustus (translated by Clayton M. Hall)]

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