I love mid-March. At least where I live, it’s finally warm enough to bike to work in a t-shirt, and this morning I woke up to the sound of birds chirping in the trees outside my window. Lengthening days and our recent daylight savings spring forward even means I no longer spend my entire day without seeing the Sun. This is bad news for my 9-5 vampire friends, though.
What I love most about this time of year is the veritable smorgasbord of pseudo-holidays that mid-March offers us. Yesterday we celebrated Pi[e] Day with our favorite circular desserts, while some people observed Steak and a BJ day — a sort of “Man’s Valentine’s Day” — with filets and fellatio. (I had burgers for dinner.) March Madness is upon basketball fans, Spring is just around the corner, and this Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day which–while a real holiday–is mostly celebrated by pseudo-Irish drunkards, so I’ll include it in the list.
But today is March 15, Idus Martii, the Ides of March. It’s a day to reflect on betrayal, to worship Mars, to watch some Shakespeare, to beware things, or to repeat a phrase without a clue as to its meaning.
Here’s a an abridged breakdown of the history of the Ides of March. From Wikipedia, reliable authority and source of all knowledge in the Universe:
Ides comes from the Latin word “Idus” and means “half division” especially in relation to a month. … The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held.
May, July, and October also have ides on the 15th. Other months have ides on the 13th.
The reason we still beware today, though, is that on this day in 44 A.D., Julius Caesar was betrayed and murdered by a backstabbing (literally) group of friends and and other co-conspirators. Old J.C. was stabbed 23 times, according to Plutarch, or if you’re into poetry, “three and thirty” times, says Shakespeare. This brings me to my next point: Don’t go by J.C. if you want to be a big wig around the Roman Empire. And if you do, avoid making friends.
A dramatized version of the tragedy, Julius Caesar was written by Shakespeare in the late 16th-century. It’s one of three major Shakespearean tragedies based on characters from Roman History. (The others are Anthony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus.) You’ve probably heard about it, but if you haven’t, you can read it by taking a 9th-grade English class. Or if you understand Semaphore, you can catch the highlights in this video:
Here’s a rundown of some of the other more significant things to occur on March 15:
- In 1493, Christopher Columbus returns to Spain from his first trip to the New World.
- In 1545, the Council of Trent meets for the first time.
- In 1781, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse pits American colonial revolutionaries against British forces. British General Charles Cornwallis defeats Colonial forces despite being outnumber more than 2:1.
- In 1820, Maine joins the Union as the 23rd State.
- In 1848, revolution breaks out in Hungary, as it did in many other European countries that year. The ruling Habsburg monarchy have to start listening to the Reform party.
- In 1916, Woodrow Wilson sends 4,800 U.S. troops across the Mexican border in pursuit of Pancho Villa.
- In 1917, Nicholas II of Russia steps down as Tsar, and his brother ascends to the throne.
- In 1939, German troops occupy Bohemia and Moravia. Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore.
- In 1956, My Fair Lady, a musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion premiers on Broadway.
- In 1961, South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations.
- In 1985, the first Internet domain name (symbolics.com) is registered, and military dictatorship in Brazil comes to an end (not related).
- In 1990, Michaeil Gorbachevis elected the first President of the Soviet Union.
- Also in 1990, my dear friend and sister-in-law is born. You don’t know her, but Happy Birthday, Sandy!
- Also in 1990, a lot of other people are born.
- In 2011, the Syrian Uprising begins, a part of the Arab Spring sequence of protests in the Middle East and North Africa.
- In 2012, a lot of things happen [Warning: shameless link to WebProNews homepage detected.]
Also on this day, Beware the Ides of March trends on Twitter. Here’s a glimpse of what people are saying:
Smith & Wesson wishes our fans no misfortune today. Beware the ides of March.
When they say ‘Beware the Ides of March,’ what they really mean is ‘Beware being stabbed 23 times.’ Which is actually good advice every day.
When do I start to beware the ides of March? If I start tomorrow I will feel ill prepared.
What’s best place/position for tom’w Beware the Ides of March day? Missionary under the covers or spoon under dining table?
Beware the Ides of March jokes.
Beware The Ides of March. It’s just not a very good film.
By “Beware the Ides of March” you mean avoid the homeless woman bouncing up and down saying “Oh yeah”, right? Cause I already did that.
Beware the Ides of March – Celebrating my favorite writer of all time, William Shakespeare & his amazing play, Julius Caesar! Et tu Brute
Beware the Ides of March, for you may be crushed by a 7-ton asteroid at any moment
@RealLincoln on 13 April.Yes, yes. Ides of March. Beware. Yada yada. Where were all of you people 2,056 years ago? Bet you don’t do this to
So take care today, watch your back, make an obligatory tweet, and avoid being a tyrant. And if some guy named Tereseus tells you to call in sick, then you might just wanna take a personal day.
I’ll leave you this ides with another clip, this one from the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged). The relevant bit ends at 2:50, if you’re short on time, but the whole thing’s worth watching: