The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii) is the name of 15 March in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months. The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other conspirators.
On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar saw a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him not later than the Ides of March. Caesar joked, “Well, the Ides of March have come”, to which the seer replied “Ay, they have come, but they are not gone.” This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March”.
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, approx. 47 BC (an Early Tragedy)
by William Shakespeare
First written between the years 1600-01, first performed in 1623.
Act 1. Scene II
SCENE II. A public place.
Flourish. Enter CAESAR; ANTONY, for the course; CALPURNIA, PORTIA, DECIUS BRUTUS, CICERO, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer
Peace, ho! Caesar speaks.
Here, my lord.
Stand you directly in Antonius’ way,
When he doth run his course. Antonius!
Caesar, my lord?
Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.
I shall remember:
When Caesar says ‘do this,’ it is perform’d.
Set on; and leave no ceremony out.
Ha! who calls?
Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!
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.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Set him before me; let me see his face.
Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.
Beware the ides of March.
He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
Sennet. Exeunt all except BRUTUS and CASSIUS
Will you go see the order of the course?
I pray you, do.
I am not gamesome: I do lack some part
Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.
Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;
I’ll leave you.
Brutus, I do observe you now of late:
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have:
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.