Beware the Ides of March

by 

Marlene Smith

March, 2004

In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, the soothsayer Spurinna tells Caesar, who is already on his way to the Senate and to his death, “Beware the Ides of March.” Caesar replies, “He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass.”

Plutarch’s account of the story, written in 75 A.C.E, states that it was sometime prior to that fateful day of March 15th that Spurinna had first given the famous warning “beware the Ides of March.” The astrologer had warned Caesar that on the Ides of March, he would be in great danger. If, however, Julius Caesar took care on that one day – then all would be well.

According to Plutarch’s account, Caesar had previously made the wise decision to stay within the safety of his bedchambers on the 15th of March, but was convinced by Decimus and Brutus that the astrologer’s warning was nothing more than superstitious foolishness. On his way to the Senate, Caesar “accidentally” met up with the astrologer and informed Spurinna: “The Ides of March have come.” Spurinna answered, “Yes, but they are not past.” Later that day, on March 15 44 B.C.E to be exact, Caesar’s enemies assassinated him in the Pompey Theater, at the foot of Pompey’s statue, where the Roman Senate was meeting that day in the temple of Venus.

The Roman calendar was a very confusing system, with the Ides falling in the middle of each and every month on the 13th. The only exceptions were the months of March, May, July, and October, where it fell on the 15th day. Theorists surmise that Caesar may have simply mixed up the dates and thought the Ides was the 13th, and not the 15th of that month.

Of course, we do not have to be so concerned as Caesar did regarding the Ides of March, but it certainly does have some relevance to us today. This is the month that “comes in like a lion, but leaves like a lamb”. As we get closer to the middle of March, it gets us thinking about the nice weather and the springtime, seemingly just around the corner. The kind of weather to start us contemplating about the outdoor activities we so enjoy.

This winter has been especially brutal for those of us that love to ride. You skiers, snowmobilers, and the like, certainly had a great season this year. The rest of us that just want to ride, well…let’s just say our heated gear may not have been up to the task, it’s been that cold!

This is also the time of year that we are finalizing our chocolate sales and getting into the home stretch. Don’t forget that all of your orders need to be in to Barbara by the 13th (or the day Caesar thought was the Ides of March). Do not hesitate to get those orders in now to her, even if it is a partial order. It’ll make her life that much easier. Barb, we are all glad to know you are doing so well after your surgery and thankful for continuing to help manage the chocolate sales through all of it. There is also a cluster-making session at Jane’s house scheduled for March 27th. If you haven’t already, please respond to Barbara’s e-mail if you are interested in participating.

Well, I do hope that March truly goes out like the lamb, and we can get on our bikes as a group and do some riding. I am so looking forward to spending those fun Sunday afternoons with everyone, enjoying the crisp, Winter’s not quite over yet, air…settling in at whatever destination we choose to eat lunch at…and just shedding that Winter ice and being warmed by the good company we’re in…see you all soon!

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome"
Anne Bradstreet (1612 - 1672), 'Meditations Divine and Moral,' 1655

"Every mile is two in winter."
George Herbert (1593 - 1633), Jacula Prudentum

[2004 Arcives]


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