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All You Need To Know About THE IDES OF MARCH

March 12th, 2011 by Hank

If you think we have disagreements among members of Congress and the White House these days, read this…

The Ides of March

The phrase Beware the Ides of March is best known because on the date that Julius Caesar was killed in Rome in 44 B.C. a seer uttered the warning to Caesar, who laughed it off. It was March 15th. Caesar, who had just declared himself Emperor for life, was on his way to the theater when he was stabbed 23 times by a group of 62 angry Senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus.  The conspirators attacked in such numbers that they even wounded one another. Brutus is said to have been wounded in the hand.

After the assassination, the Senate passed an amnesty on the assassins. Nonetheless, a big uproar among the general population caused Brutus and the other conspirators to leave Rome. Brutus settled in Crete. Two years later he lost a battle against another group of political activists and fled into the nearby hills with a small group of his own men. Knowing he would be captured, Brutus committed suicide.

Brutus’ ancestors had a history of deposing kings. His cousin Junius, for example, had thrown out the last King of Rome years before.

The phrase sic semper tyrannis which means “thus, ever to tyrants!” — is attributed to Brutus at Caesar’s assassination. The phrase is also the official motto of the Commonwealth of Virginia. On the night John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln he shouted “sic semper tyrannis” while leaping to the stage of Ford’s Theater.

Exactly what is “the Ides”? The Roman calendar organized each of its months around three days. Each of these days served as a reference point for counting the other days. Kalends was the first day of the month. Nones was the 7th day in March, May, July, and October, and the 5th in the other months. Ides was the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months. The cumbersome, complex calendar identified unnamed days of the month by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones—5 days before the Nones.

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