The Ides of March are come!

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Today is the 15th day of March. We often let this day pass by and dismiss it as a day like any other. But it is not.

The word ides is said to be derived from the Latin iduare, meaning “to divide.” In the Ancient Roman calendar, Ides referred to the 15th day of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of all other months.

In Rome, the Ides of March (March 15th) was marked with a festival to the god Mars, the god of war. A militaristic parade was customary. However, since 44BC this day has taken on a new form: it was the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated. This infamous incident came alive when Shakespeare first staged this play at the end of the 16th century.

Soothsayer
Caesar!

CAESAR
Ha! who calls?

CASCA
Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

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.

Soothsayer
Beware the ides of March. (Julius Caesar I.ii)

But Caesar does not heed the call, but rather says “he is a dreamer, let us leave him.” Little did the great Caesar known Cassius was organizing a group of conspirators that would bring him down.
And the so the Ides of March came and 23 senators met Caesar at the senate house to plead a case: Caesar would so be swayed. So:

CASCA
Speak, hands for me!
CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR
CAESAR
Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.
Dies. (III.i)

The line “Et tu Brute!” has become one of the most popular lines inherited from the Bard. It has been used in many cultural references to describe the dismay at a traitorous friend.

Brutus justified the assignation before the people, saying that Caesar was ambitious,

and it was
Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved
Rome more. (III.ii)

There are those who say that Shakespeare is not relevant today: but one need only to look at the events over the past year in light of this play to see that the struggle that Brutus expresses in these lines has not died, but is as relevant today as they were on that Ides of March when Caesar fell.
Perhaps it would be wise to give this day more notice than it receives. Perhaps we should commemorate this occasion as Brutus instructed the Romans to do:

Stoop, Romans, stoop,
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords:
Then walk we forth, even to the market-place,
And, waving our red weapons o’er our heads,
Let’s all cry ‘Peace, freedom and liberty! (III.i)

Or….maybe just take time to read your favourite passage from Shakespeare’s monumental tragedy! For who cannot be moved by such immortal speeches as:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me. (III.ii)

Valeo amici!
Alex Benarzi

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