Beware the "Ides of March"

Julias Caesar Sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the ancient Roman calendar, "The Ides” were the mid-point in a month—either the 13th or 15th, depending on the length of that particular month.  Each month’s Ides were celebrated in honor of Rome’s top deity, Jupiter, and a “scapegoat” was paraded and sacrificed to that god.

The Ides of March—15 March—was extra-special since March was the first month of the year.  Commoners spent the day picnicking, drinking, and making merry.  The scapegoat in March would be an old man, dressed in animal skins, who would be (symbolically?) driven from the city—perhaps representing the expulsion of the just-completed, old year.

Roman emperor Julius Caesar had been warned by a soothsayer that danger would befall him “before the Ides of March.”  On that day in 44 BC, on his way to a Senate meeting, Caesar passed the seer and shouted out, “The Ides of March have come!”  The seer replied, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone!”  Not long afterward, Caesar was attacked and killed at the Senate.  The group of attackers was lead by his friend, Brutus.


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