Submitted by swalzer on

What are the Ides of March, and why should we beware of them?

There’s nothing to worry about on the Ides of March, unless of course you were Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. In that case, you had plenty of reasons to be fearful, but you wouldn’t realize that until it’s a little too late.

First things first - what are Ides? “Ides” comes from a Latin word meaning “to divide,” and it was a point meant to mark the middle of a month.

Where did the phrase come from? The phrase was immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar which dramatized the downfall of the Roman leader. In an epic moment of foreshadowing, a soothsayer (fortune teller) tells Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.” Why? Well, it just so happened to be the day that 60 men, many close to Caesar, were planning to betray and murder him. Among the conspirators was Marcus Brutus, to whom Caesar utters the famous line “Et tu, Brute?,” basically meaning “Even you, Brutus?”

Oh yes, Brutus was in on the murder plot, along with others who feared Caesar had too much power and wanted to restore the government to its previous state. It was the ultimate betrayal, and the powerful moment in history was captured by Shakespeare in the play. This real-life plot is as twisted as any fictional drama!

Was this phrase uttered in real life? Possibly, though no one knows for sure. A similar version of the phrase was written by Plutarch whose writing Shakespeare consulted when crafting his play.

To discover more about the Shakespeare play, and others:

To find out more about life in Ancient Rome, check out: