Friday, 14 March 2014

Beware the ides of March

I start getting nervous around this time of year, that crazy Ides of March time of year. But what ARE the Ides of March and why should we be wary of them?

It turns out we don’t need to be wary at all. Shakespeare has far-reaching influence it seems. He penned the phrase and used it in his tragedy, Julius Caesar. And it has become happily ensconced in our collective cultural psyche. Maybe just because it sounds good. And properly delivered, sounds pretty ominous. If only people 400 years from now would bandy around phrases that I have written and others would sagely nod in recognition at the now universally acknowledged reference. 

But back to the Ides. Now, there’s a phrase you really don’t get to pull out that often.

The Ides happen every Month, Ides being from the Latin iduare, which means to divide. It was the Roman term for the day that came in the middle of the month, and divided it in two. March has 31 days, so the 15th is the Ides of March.

Not particularly ominous.

Although it wasn’t a great date for Julius Caesar in 44 B.C, which is when he was assassinated at the hands of the Roman Senators who wanted to get rid of him and change the way the Roman Republic was being run. And his death certainly signaled a turning point in Roman History.

Shakespeare picked up on the delightfully sordid conspiracy leading up to Caesar’s demise and dispatch and introduced an element of anxiety for the audience by having a soothsayer and, in fact his own wife, warn Caesar of his impending fate by telling him to “beware the Ides of March.”

Shakespeare’s Caesar did nothing of the sort and to once again use someone else’s words, the rest is history.

Sometimes we inherit ideas and preconceptions from past generations, those around us or from our own embattled souls. Ideas and fears become imbued with a power they should not have.

Happy halfway through the month.

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