The Ides of March is upon us, but don’t worry. Unless your name is Julius Caesar, that just means it’s March 15.
Caesar, the general and statesman who helped the Roman Empire rise to power, was assassinated on this day in 44 B.C. Caesar was fatally stabbed by a 60-man band of senators under Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. The group thought Caesar, who had recently been declared dictator for life, was becoming too power-hungry.
Caesar was set to leave on an army campaign March 18, so the group of conspirators decided to attack on March 15 while the leader was at the Senate. One man, “with a sweep of his dagger,” punctured Caesar “just below the throat,” according to Michael Grant’s book “The Ancient Historians.” Caesar fought back but was ultimately stabbed 23 times. Legend has it that when Caesar saw Brutus approach with a knife, he said, “You too, my son?”
The plot didn’t really achieve its intended goal. “Within a couple of years Brutus and Cassius were dead,” classics expert Philip Freeman told National Geographic. “They were not able to bring back the Republic, and really what they did was usher in more of a permanent dictatorship under the future Roman emperors — the opposite of what they intended.”
Here are other facts about Julius Caesar and the Ides of March:
Other incidents that have fallen on the Ides of March include a 1941 blizzard in North America and CBS’ decision in 1971 to cancel “The Ed Sullivan Show,” according to the Smithsonian Magazine.
Caesar’s story was immortalized in William Shakespeare’s 1599 play “Julius Caesar.” In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to “beware the Ides of March.” Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, begs him not to go to the Senate on that day. She has had a bad dream that Caesar will be murdered.
The word “ide” means halfway through a particular month, according to dictionary.com.
Caesar was born on July 13, 100 B.C., though at the time it wasn’t called July. The month was Quintilis before it was renamed after the general.
In 2012, a group of archaeologists claimed they had found the exact site where Caesar was killed, Slate reported.
Caesar was married three times.
One of the most famous quotes from Shakespeare’s play is “Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never taste of death but once. / Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, / It seems to me most strange that men should fear; / Seeing that death, a necessary end, / Will come when it will come.”
One of Caesar’s most famous quotes in real life was “Veni, vidi, vici” — “I came, I saw, I conquered.”