Every 15th day of March annually, people are warned to beware of the day. This has become a common statement. But not everyone is aware of the reason or reasons for this warning “Beware The Ides Of March”.
From 12th day of March, the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” starts to pop up. Beware The Ides of March! Beware The Ides of March!! Beware The Ides Of March!!!
And many ask; “what does this mean, and why should one be afraid of the 15th of March?
In the Shakespearean Novel, Julius Ceaser, a soothsayer was shouting and warning Ceaser from a crowd to “Beware the Ides of March.”
However, Julius Caesar was actually murdered on the same Ides of March after not heeding to the warning of the soothsayer to stay indoors on this day.
His closest friend Brutus with others stabbed him to death in the Roman senate. Mostly by a group of senators on the ides of March in 44 BC.
Historically, the ancient historian, Plutarch reported that the real-life Caesar was warned of impending danger by a seer named Spurinna to beware The Ides Of March.
Julius Caesar should have avoided a murder plot on the ides of March if he had listened to the voice of the “common” soothsayer. But for the fact that the soothsayer was not among the then “Noble and Honourable” men, his warnings were disregarded. And the result was the murder of Ceaser.
Meaning of Ides:
According to the Roman history, “Ides” is a Latin word of unknown origin. But it is one of three terms that the Romans use to mark certain days of the months in the Roman’s calendar.
These terms include “kalends,” “nones,” and “ides.”
Despite the fact that all these words end with letter “S”, they are all singular. This means that the ides of March is just one day. And the day is the 15th day of March.
Nevertheless, the Roman calendar was quite different from modern day calendar we use today.
It had only ten months. However, the Romans added extra months in what looks like a confusing way to many.
Understandably, the Roman calendar was tied to the phases of the moon. And the Ides was the date of the full moon. It generally marked the middle of the month.
Ironically, not only the month of March has an Ides. But every month of the year.
In a reference in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1483, the printer William Caxton referred to the ides of July. And that would have been a normal thing to do at the time, just like people will refer to the 15th of July.
Notwithstanding, the ides was on the 13th day in some months while in others, like March and July, it was on the 15th day.
Meaning of Kalends:
Kalends was the first day of the month. It is the root and origin of today’s modern term “calendar.”
Meaning of Nones
The term “Nones” was the fifth or the seventh day of the month. And it depends on the month.
Nones was always the eight days before the ides. However, the way the Romans counted it made it to become nine days.
This is why the name reminds one of the number nine. Inclusive counting was used.
It is just like saying that the modern day week included Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday again. This means that the week runs from Sunday to Sunday.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the days after the nones were “reckoned forward to the ides,” so people would refer to a date such as October 11 as the “fifth of the ides of October” because it was five days before the ides, counting inclusively.
According to history.com, March 15 was the beginning of the new year on the Roman calendar, but Caesar changed it to January 1 about two years before his death as part of his major calendar reformation project, which made the calendar year more accurately fit to the solar year.
Therefore, Beware the Ides Of March means to be careful of days of joy and merriment. It also means to be careful of friends sorrounding one in the days of affluence. Not all are real friends and happy with your wealth and fame.
It should be a watchword for people in power to be careful always. Especially around crowds.