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Beware the Ides of March!

Abuse of power has its pitfalls, with a day of reckoning just up ahead. Beware...

Death of Julius Caesar, Ides of March 44 BC
Death of Julius Caesar, by Italian artist
Vincenzo Camuccini,

This year, the Ides of March is observed on Friday, March 15.

So what is the "Ides of March" and why should anyone beware the day holding such bad news and omens?

The warning was first given to the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, whose empire stretched throughout the known world.

As Caesar's power grew, so did the number of his enemies who secretly plotted the emperor's fatal comeuppance. The date they chose was March 15th, the Ides of March 44 BC.

Why the "Ides"?

The word ides comes from a Latin word that means "to divide" and traditionally marked the halfway point in Roman months. "The ides", then, is simply the middle of the month. It was only in 44 BC that dark clouds began to form around the middle of March as the famous plot to assassinate Caesar drew near ...

Caesar gets a warning

Today, historians think the plot had already begun to buzz around Rome when a soothsayer famously warned Caesar, “beware the Ides of March.” The accurate forecast, therefore, may have been based more on Rome's worst kept secret than any special psychic powers on the part of the seer.

Alas, at the end of the day it didn't matter. A swaggering, over-confident Julius Caesar met his terrible fate when he ignored the advice.

A famous line from Shakespeare

"Pride goeth before a fall" first sounded the general alarm in the Bible, with similar warnings against pride and arrogance having appeared in countless other literary works.

Curiously, the famous lesson found in Julius Caesar may have been lost to history had it not been for William Shakespeare, who wrote the very popular play Julius Caesar in which the famous line in Act I, Scene II-- "Beware the ides of March" -- is quoted for generations to come.

Today, the classic play is still staged around the world for modern theater-goers, who await the horrible death that Caesar will suffer.

Tension mounts as the Ides of March arrives and although the outcome is already a foregone conclusion, audience reaction remains the same : "Caesar, don't go inside the Senate! "Listen up! You're about to get whacked!"

— but, again, always too late.

The moral of the story? Abuse of power has its pitfalls, and a day of reckoning lies just up ahead.


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