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  • Writer's picturePaula Wesselmann

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH

Why do I hear those 5 words, and my skin begins to crawl with a warning that something bad is about to happen? Am I being pulled into some creative idea that exploits the feeling of terror that comes with the word BEWARE or should I settle this awkwardness with the truth? My curious nature wants substance. The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar, and that day lands on March 15th. The Ides referred to the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th. In pre-Christian Rome, the Ides of March, the middle of each month, was to celebrate and honor the god Jupiter, also known as Jove or Optimus Maximus meaning ‘all-good, all-powerful.’ As the god of the heavens, he had domain over weather and storms. Now I’m beginning to understand the word “Beware.” It appears that March 15, is considered an unlucky date for people who believe in superstition. My Italian grandparents from Italy had a superstitious nature so I can understand this as well as anything related to a full moon and the howl of a werewolf.


Okay, back to history. The Ides of March is the day a Roman statesman, Julius Caesar was assassinated. The story goes that on February 15 44BC, Caesar sacrificed a bull, and Spurinna, a haruspex, a religious official who interpreted omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals, “made the chilling announcement that the beast had no heart.” Brave Caesar was “unmoved,” but Spurinna said that she feared Caesar’s life “might come to a bad end,” and warned the dictator that “his life would be in danger for the next 30 days.” As history goes, Cesare was stabbed to death at a meeting of the Senate. As many as 60 conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius, were involved. No wonder the English dramatist, William Shakespeare further immortalized Caesar in the tragedy, Julius Caesar in 1559. The warning is uttered by a soothsayer, “Beware the Ides of March,” when he informs Julius Caesar that his life is in danger, and to stay home when March 15th, the Ides of March, rolls around. 


There is nothing like a true-life drama to give you a chill. My advice to you is if you have a superstitious nature, stay home on March 15th, and if you don’t, take your chances, but not on a dark stormy day with a full moon at night.

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