The first time most people heard of “Beware of the Ides of March” was in their high school or college Literature 101 class when they were introduced to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. They wondered what a terrible thing an Ides might be.
When they learned that Ides loosely translated means to divide, or the middle, and that the Ides of March simply is March 15, the middle of the month, “Beware the Ides of March” became much less sinister.
Julius Caesar, emperor of the huge Roman Empire, was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. His downfall was plotted by Cassius and Brutus, his friend, which shows you how dirty politics were, even at that time.
Caesar had been warned by a soothsayer, who begged him to “Beware of the Ides of March” and not to attend the Senate meeting. Caesar had the utmost confidence in himself and went anyway and was assassinated.
After you read the play, you thought it was just a good story about early Roman times. You were surprised to learn that there was a moral to the story and that the story was really about the abuse of power and that power has its pitfalls with a day of reckoning up ahead. The moral was akin to our “pride goes before a fall” warning.
The pride that goes before a fall can be compared to the unsuspecting pride many of us have about our finances today. It is good to be proud, but be warned that just because you are financially secure today means nothing tomorrow. Do not let yourself become overconfident.
The moral of Julius Caesar has mostly been forgotten but the words “Beware the Ides of March” have lived on and there are many today who have a superstitious belief in that warning. They see unusual instances and give the Ides credit for the misfortune.
Not too many years ago, individual income tax returns were due on March 15 and just the filing of the tax return caused many to worry that the Internal Revenue Service would come after them. Corporate returns and other filings are still due March 15, making this an unhappy period of time for some.
The National Day Calendar has March 15 listed as “National Buzzards Day and everything that can go wrong day.”
Back in 1941, on a fairly nice Saturday night, with only a dusting of snow, residents of the Great Plains prepared to go out to dinner, a movie or shopping. Just as they were beginning to enjoy their outings, the wind suddenly became violent and a deadly blizzard hit, leaving 60 dead in North Dakota and Minnesota and another six dead in Canada. It had to be the Ides, many thought.
The world record rainfall, 73.62 inches in 24 hours fell in La Reunion in the Indian Ocean on March 15, 1952.
The world watched in horror in 1939 on the Ides of March as Hitler’s Nazi German army occupied Czechoslovakia.
When a deadly cyclone struck Samoa back in 1889 and destroyed three U.S. warships and three German warships, killing over 200 sailors, this had to be due to the Ides.
It was on the Ides of March in 1917 that Czar Nicholas of Russia was removed from power and he and his family were executed the next year.
The list goes on and on, fueling the belief that the Ides of March is a dangerous time.
What else could account for such a thing as the Ed Sullivan Show being cancelled by CBS after it had been on the air for 23 years?
You may not believe that you should beware the Ides of March, but you probably don’t walk under a ladder either.
Don’t despair: The National Day calendar lists March 16 as “The day everything you do is right day.”
Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org