Ides Of March

“…a certain seer 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.

When the day had come, Caesar was on his way to the senate-house when he saw the seer. Greeting him with a jest, Caesar said: “Well, the Ides of March are come!”

The seer said to him softly: “Aye, mighty Caesar, they are come… but they are not gone.”

The prophet`s warning to Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March!” has forever imbued that date with a sense of foreboding; but in Roman times the expression “Ides of March” did not necessarily evoke a dark mood, it was merely a standard way of referring to the 15th day of the month of March. Surely such a fanciful expression must signify something more than merely another day of the year?

Not so. Even in the days of William Shakespeare, some sixteen centuries later, audiences attending his play Julius Caesar would not have blinked twice upon hearing the date called the Ides. The term “Ides” comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.

Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days.

The “Kalends” were the first days of each month; the “Nones” occurred at the end of the first week (sometimes the first, sometimes the fifth); and the “Ides” which divided the month in half (occurring on either the 13th or 15th of each month).

As far as my own self, it has been a long standing habit of mine to seem to fall into a strange malaise and mood of melancholy during this span of days. Last year this disposition was exacerbated by the loss of my child earlier in the month.

I have also noticed that certain tragic events in my past have seem to often take place in late February to early March… thus have I steeled myself in mid-Winter with the seer`s caution aforementioned.


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