The Ides of March

Before it was a Ryan Gosling/George Clooney movie (and a good one at that), the Ides of March was a day where history and legend met. It may be due to my mother’s own passion for celebrating this epic moment in time, but I’ve always regarded the ides with some trepidation, as if the death of Rome’s first dictator were a sign – still today – that we’re all vulnerable when the 15th of March comes around. It’s hard not to relate to Caesar: a man so forceful and determined that is overcome by simple fate, by superstition, by a ticking clock (an analogy Shakespeare himself anachronistically included in his tragedy), or, perhaps, just by others more determined than he. It’s easy to escape our own mortality on a day-to-day basis, but here we have one day a year when we remember a mortal man, of a part of history, that came to a brutal end over two milennia ago. Sure, we remember the death of other great men (Jesus, for one), but Caesar was no saint (at least not to us): just a great man who fell, and then had a salad named after him.

What’s not to love about the story? Conspiracy, soothsayers, passion, politics, bloody murder. It took so many men, narrative threads, histories, and thoughts to kill Caesar. The story each of us knows is a little different, a little more or less based in historical fact. But we all punctuate it with the foreboding ides, and the “et tu Brute?” that will forever signify deep betrayal. Like that time your friend stole a french fry when you weren’t looking.

Below, the famous excerpt from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and the death of Caesar as protrayed by the HBO series, Rome.

Soothsayer

Caesar!

CAESAR

Ha! who calls?

CASCA

Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

CAESAR

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer

Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR

What man is that?

BRUTUS

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

CAESAR

Set him before me; let me see his face.

CASSIUS

Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

CAESAR

What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.

Soothsayer

Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR

He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

 

 

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