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The Ides of March: an insight into the history, significance and relevance of the infamous day

Delve into the intriguing story and significance of the Ides of March, the fateful day on which Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Uno de los símbolos de Roma, del imperio romano, de Italia y de la historia de la humanidad
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Around this time of the year, the common expression of the ‘Ides of March’ always appears in the media and on television. But what is, or are, the Ides of March? Here’s a quick explainer.

How the Roman calendar worked

The ancient Romans had a unique way of marking the days of a month. They did not simply number each day from the beginning to the end. Instead, they counted backwards from three specific points in the month: the Nones (which fell on the 5th or 7th day, nine days before the Ides), the Ides (which fell on the 13th day for most months, but on the 15th day for March, May, July, and October), and the Kalends (which were the 1st day of the following month).

So the Ides of March simply means the 15th of March. Note that although it is plural in both English and Latin it only refers to one day. Scholars have speculated that it may have been plural in Latin due to its recurring nature.

Originally, the Ides were determined by the full moon, which reflected the lunar origins of the Roman calendar. In fact, in the earliest version of the calendar, the Ides of March would have corresponded to the first full moon of the new year.

The Ides of March: What are they and how do they work?

The Ides of March, known as Idus Martii in Latin, refers to the 15th day of March in the Roman calendar. In ancient Rome, the Ides were considered an important marker for certain religious observances and political activities. Each of the Ides was sacred to Jupiter, the Roman’s supreme deity.

The Ides were also used as markers for certain religious observances and political activities, including the settling of debts and the payment of taxes. They were also important dates for the performance of public ceremonies, such as the opening of the gladiatorial games.

But the Ides of March gained notoriety due to one fateful event - the assassination of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BC. Caesar was a powerful Roman general and politician who had became dictator of the Roman Empire after winning a civil war in 49 BC. Despite this he still sought even more power, with concerns among many in Rome that he wished to crown himself King.

The Death of Julius Caesar and the historical origins of the Ides of March

On the Ides of March, Caesar was scheduled to attend a meeting of the Roman Senate. Despite warnings from his wife and others about a possible assassination plot, Caesar decided to attend the meeting.

As he arrived at the Senate, he was surrounded by a group of conspirators, who proceeded to stab him to death. The assassination of Caesar marked a significant turning point in Roman history, leading to the downfall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

Caesar had named his grandnephew Octavian his sole heir, receiving both vast wealth and the powerful Caesar name. After a long and bloody civil war, Octavian, now restyled Augustus, triumphed and became the first Roman Emperor.

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Translating the significance of the Ides of March to today

While the Ides of March may seem like a relic of ancient history, their significance and relevance can still be felt today. The idea of a powerful figure being assassinated by those who seek to overthrow them is a recurring theme throughout history, from the assassination of Julius Caesar to the deaths of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Moreover, the Ides of March serve as a reminder of the fragility of power and the dangers of unchecked ambition. They remind us that even the most powerful and influential figures can fall from grace, and that the consequences of their actions can have far-reaching implications for the world around them.

The enduring legacy of the Ides of March

While the Ides of March may be best known for the assassination of Julius Caesar, the significance and relevance of the day can still be felt in our times, as a reminder of the fragility of power and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

As we look back on the Ides of March, we can reflect on the lessons that history has taught us, and strive to create a better future for ourselves and those around us.


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