Thursday, 15 March 2012

“Beware the Ides of March!”

“Beware the Ides of March!”

This is best remembered as the cry emanating from the soothsayer in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, which ultimately resulted in the death of the Holy Roman Emperor. According to the play, Caesar met his end after being stabbed 33 times (three and thirty wounds).
La Morte di Cesare (Death of Caesar) by Vincenzo Camuccino - on display in the Italian National Gallery in Rome

The “ides” comes from the Latin word “idus” meaning “half division”, in relation to a month. The word was commonly used for the 15th of March, May, July and October in the Roman calendar.

It is believed however that Caesar was only stabbed 23 times (the extra 10 were presumably for some kind of Shakespearean dramatic licence).

On the ides of March in 44 B.C. a group of approx. 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus enacted the deadly deed, condemning Caesar to a somewhat bloody end.

Today is the ides of March, so it’s best beware I suppose (not that you see too many soothsayers around these days, or Holy Roman Emperor's come to that!)

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