Saturday, March 15, 2014

March Ides


Interested to see what comes next Friday, the day before the “Ides of March”, on birthdays.


Thanks Lapun.

Below is a lot of information about the Ides of March, which is posted on the actual ide rather than on Funny Friday.

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Every month has an ide, a middle, but the Ides of March are the best known. In the Roman calendar some ides were on the 15th and some on the 13th. In Roman times the Ides of March was mostly notable as a deadline for settling debts.

The Ides of March didn't signify anything special in itself - this was just the usual way of saying "March 15th". The notion of the Ides being a dangerous date was purely an invention of Shakespeare's, the date wasn't significant in being associated with death prior to 1601.

Months of the Roman calendar were arranged around three named days - the Kalends, the Nones and the Ides.  These were reference points from which the other (unnamed) days were calculated:

  • Kalends (1st day of the month).
  • Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months).
  • Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months).

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15  March was marked by several religious observances, and became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The death of Caesar made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history, being one of the events that marked the transition from the historical period known as the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

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Reverse side of a coin issued by Caesar's assassin Brutus in 42 BC, with the abbreviation EID MAR (Ides of March) under a “cap of freedom” between two daggers.

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In real life Caesar was warned not to go to the Senate but chose to ignore that advice, a fact made memorable by Shakespeare in his play Julius 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.

Beware the ides of March. 

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15-19

The phrase “Beware the ides of March” has forever been immortalised by the above lines.

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The Ides of March: Tiny Signs, Huge Demise

by Nelson James, March 14th

Back in the good old days, before 44 B.C., the Romans considered the Ides of March to simply mean March 15th – the date of the full moon. But on March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated, fulfilling the prophecies of the soothsayers who had warned him that he would be killed before the Ides of March and forever changing Roman society.

The suspected reasons for Caesar’s assassination are complex and varied, but most historians agree that his vanity and self-importance didn’t help him any. Romans weren’t fond of kings – they ousted their last king in 509 B.C. and set up a republican government with two consuls, a judicial system and a senate. The position of Dictator was reserved for use only during times of unrest. However, Caesar made himself “Dictator for Life” in February of 44 B.C. Prior to the position, Caesar had become somewhat full of himself and his power. He appointed his buddies to the Senate and renamed monuments to honor himself. And, according to Josiah Osgood, assistant professor of classics at Georgetown University, “Caesar was the first living Roman ever to appear on the coinage. Normally, the honor was reserved for deities.” (1)

Coins are like tiny little bits of signage – they communicate a lot of information with just a few words and symbols. In addition to denoting a particular monetary value, they give information about the culture and society in which they’re distributed. In the United States, coins typically have the profile of a historical figure on the front. When you look at the profile of Abraham Lincoln on the penny the image might evoke thoughts of the Gettysburg Address, or of Lincoln’s humble beginnings in his childhood log cabin home. The symbols on coins tell a story – one that helps us identify with our country. It’s appropriate to have Lincoln’s likeness on a coin, since he had a great impact on our history, but it’s also important to note that he didn’t appear on the U.S. penny until 1909 – more than 40 years after his death.

By putting his face on Roman coins while he was still alive and in control of Rome, Caesar was communicating that he was the man in power – a fact that his enemies did not appreciate. When they saw the coins with Caesar’s face, they imagined stories of a power-hungry dictator who was determined to promote his own fame and fortune.

After the death of Caesar, his assassins minted a new coin. In the middle, it features a hat commonly worn by freed slaves. On either side of the hat, downward-pointing daggers, and underneath, the words “EID MAR” (The Ides of March). On the front of the coin, a picture of Marcus Brutus, the mastermind behind Caesar’s assassination. This coin tells the story of Brutus, “the noblest Roman” and his role in freeing the people of Rome from the power-hungry dictator Caesar.

(1) National Geographic News. “Ides of March Marked Murder of Julius Caesar.” March 12, 2004.

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Ten events which occurred on the Ides of March

From the Smithsonian website at:

1. Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 B.C.
Conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus stab dictator-for-life Julius Caesar to death before the Roman senate. Caesar was 55. 

2. A Raid on Southern England, 1360
A French raiding party begins a 48-hour spree of rape, pillage and murder in southern England. King Edward III interrupts his own pillaging spree in France to launch reprisals, writes historian Barbara Tuchman, “on discovering that the French could act as viciously in his realm as the English did in France.” 

3. Samoan Cyclone, 1889
A cyclone wrecks six warships—three U.S., three German—in the harbor at Apia, Samoa, leaving more than 200 sailors dead. (On the other hand, the ships represented each nation’s show of force in a competition to see who would annex the Samoan islands; the disaster averted a likely war.)

4. Czar Nicholas II Abdicates His Throne, 1917
Czar Nicholas II of Russia signs his abdication papers, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty and ushering in Bolshevik rule. He and his family are taken captive and, in July 1918, executed before a firing squad.

5. Germany Occupies Czechoslovakia, 1939
Just six months after Czechoslovak leaders ceded the Sudetenland, Nazi troops seize the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, effectively wiping Czechoslovakia off the map.

6. A Deadly Blizzard on the Great Plains, 1941
A Saturday-night blizzard strikes the northern Great Plains, leaving at least 60 people dead in North Dakota and Minnesota and six more in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. A light evening snow did not deter people from going out—“after all, Saturday night was the time for socializing,” Diane Boit of Hendrum, Minnesota, would recall—but “suddenly the wind switched, and a rumbling sound could be heard as 60 mile-an-hour winds swept down out of the north.”

7. World Record Rainfall, 1952
Rain falls on the Indian Ocean island of La RĂ©union—and keeps falling, hard enough to register the world’s most voluminous 24-hour rainfall: 73.62 inches.

8. CBS Cancels the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 1971
Word leaks that CBS-TV is canceling “The Ed Sullivan Show” after 23 years on the network, which also dumped Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason in the preceding month. A generation mourns.

9. Disappearing Ozone Layer, 1988
NASA reports that the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere has been depleted three times faster than predicted.

10. A New Global Health Scare, 2003
After accumulating reports of a mysterious respiratory disease afflicting patients and healthcare workers in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada, the World Health Organization issues a heightened global health alert. The disease will soon become famous under the acronym SARS (for Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

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