History: Ides of March

Gordon Jackson recalls that today is the Ides of March:Today's date brought to mind a March 15 some years ago when I was teaching French and reminded my students of the anniversary of Julius Caesar's demise.  .  As Caesar was making his way to the Senate, someone slipped him a note warning him of the plot.  Caesar already had a handful of notes and added the new one to them, intending to read it later. RH:
As far as Caesar knew, the Ides were just another day.The soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March," has imbued that date with a sense of foreboding. But in Roman times the expression "Ides of March" was simply the standard way of saying "March 15." The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, whose inventor  had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones,­5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005