‘Beware the Ides of March:’ A History Beyond the Shakespearean Play ‘Julius Caesar’ #history #Englishliterature #amwriting


I thought that I almost missed it. Today is the Ides of March. I know St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, overtakes this day. But unless you’re into it a great deal, the Ides of March, isn’t a reason to drink green beer all day. Rickard’s Red or something along lose lines, might work better.


Credit: Someecards.com


The first time I learned about today was in grade ten in Mr. G’s English class. He was one of my favorite high school teachers. And a hilarious guy, who had no aversions to mocking his students. We made of fun mocked him and each other (in a friendly manner), in each class he taught in grade ten.

We also studied William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar, where this vital passage appears early in the play:


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.

Caesar:

What man is that?

Brutus:

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

(Julius Caesar Act I.ii. 15–19).


Later on, we learned these lines are foreshadowing Caesar’s death. According to enotes.com, on Shakespeare’s famous play, these lines occur during “Lupercalia, an ancient Roman religious holiday. Caesar, [a] Roman dictator,” is making his way “through the streets before an appearance” in front of “the ‘press’ (crowd).” From the busy streets, a soothsayer issues this famous warning. As well, Caesar, a “superstitious man,” does not take the “soothsayers” words without a great deal of worry and consideration.

As well, the ‘ides’ of March always occurs on the “15th,” but which day of the month the ‘ides'” occurs in each calendar month “depends on a complicated system of calculation.” It was “Caesar himself [who] established” the ‘Ides’ when he “instituted the Julian calendar, a precursor” of our modern calendar. Also, the “‘ides’ of January, for example, “always occurs on the”13th,” but the ‘ides’ of March, May, July and October” happen on the “15th” of these months.

“The [significance] of the ‘Ides of March’ for Caesar is that [it’s] the day [he’s] assassinated by a group of conspirators, including Brutus and Cassius. Despite numerous and improbable portents [foreshadowing and allusion] —the soothsayer’s warning” a “fearsome thundering,” along with Caesers’ “wife’s dreams of his murder,” and other signs, in Shakespeare’s play, mean Caesar can’t ignore the future he faces. Despite all this, he “ventures forth on the ides to meet his doom.”


Credit: Someecards.com


Also, the site History.com can provide us with more historical insight into this unusual day. Their staff write that “Gaius Julius Caesar,” was “stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by 60 conspirators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.”

Caesar, who was “born into the Julii, an ancient” but not “distinguished Roman aristocratic family, began his political career in 78 B.C. as a prosecutor for the anti-patrician Popular Party.” From there, “[he] achieved. . . influence in the party” through his “reformist ideas” and skills as an “orat[or].” He also “aided Roman imperial efforts by raising a private army to combat the king of Pontus in 74 B.C. ”

Caesar was [also] an ally of Pompey” who was the “recognized head of the Popular Party.” He “essentially took over this position after Pompey left Rome in 67 B.C.,” when Pompey chose to become commander of Roman forces in the east. As well, by “63 B.C., Caesar was elected pontifex maximus, or ‘high priest,” allegedly by heavy bribes. Two years later, he was made governor of Farther Spain and in 60 B.C., [he] returned to Rome,” with “ambitio[ns] for the office of consul. The consulship” was the “highest office in the Roman Republic, [and was] shared by two politicians on an annual basis.”

The “Consuls commanded the army, presided over the Senate by execut[ing the Senate’s] decrees, and represented the state in foreign affairs. Caesar formed a political alliance–the so-called ‘First Triumvirate’–with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus.” While the “majority of the Roman Senate, . . . opposed Caesar,” his “land reforms won him popularity” among Roman Citizen’s and, eventually, the Senate.


Credit: someecards.com


Also, in “58 B.C., Caesar was given four Roman legions in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum.” He “demonstrated brilliant military talents as he expanded the Roman Empire and his reputation. Among other achievements, Caesar conquered all of Gaul, made the first Roman inroads into Britain, and won devoted supporters in his legions.” Nevertheless, Caesar’s “successes . . . aroused Pompey’s jealousy, leading to the collapse of their political alliance in 53 B.C.”

The Roman Senate supported Pompey and asked Caesar to give up his army, which [of course,] he refused to do.” As well, in “January [of] 49 B.C., Caesar led his legions across the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, . . . declaring war against Pompey and his forces. Caesar made early gains in the[ir] civil war, defeating Pompey’s army in Italy and Spain.”

However, he “was later forced into retreat in Greece. In August 48 B.C., with Pompey in pursuit, Caesar paused near Pharsalus, setting up camp at a strategic location. When Pompey’s senatorial forces fell upon Caesar’s smaller army, they were entirely routed, and Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated by an officer of the Egyptian king.” Thus, Caesar rose to power in the Roman Republic as a dictator and sole consul member.


Credit: Someecards.com


Finally, History.com notes that “Caesar was. . . appointed Roman consul and dictator, but before settling in[to] Rome, he traveled around the empire for several years [to] consolidat[e] his rule,” through military might and oration. “In 45 B.C., he returned to Rome and was made dictator [of Rome] for life.

As sole Roman ruler, Caesar launched ambitious programs of reform within the empire. The most lasting of these was his establishment of the Julian calendar.” Except for “slight modifications” and certain “adjustment[s to the calendar] in the 16th century, [it] remains in use today.” Caesar also “planned new imperial expansions in central Europe and to the east.

In the midst of these vast “ambitions, Caesar “was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C., by a group of conspirators, who[m] believed . . . his death would lead to the restoration of the Roman Republic.” Nonetheless, “the result of the ‘Ides of March’ was to plunge Rome into a fresh round of civil wars,” including Caesar’s once powerful supporter from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra, Marc Anthony.

However, “Octavian, Caesar’s grand-nephew,” emerged as the “first Roman emperor, Augustus” Caesar. He “destroy[ed] the Roman Republic forever,” but did manage to bring the Romans into an age of peace called Pax Romana.

According to Wikipedia, what this age of peace meant was that, the Roman Empire expanded little and had to defend itself little against enemies, until the “Third Century.” Around this time, the Roman empire began its descent in power, especially, in Western Europe.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

A List of People, Living or Dead, I’d Like to Meet


Thank you to La Duchesse D’erat for her prompt for a list this week.

—– 

1. My Grandpa Eifert – My Grandpa died on my fourteenth Birthday. He had been in hospital quite a few weeks and they were preparing to move him into a senior’s home for assisted living. He smoked a lot when he was younger and didn’t stop until his fifties. By then, it was almost too late. On the Eifert side of the family, there are ‘bad lungs’ so it’s especially stupid to smoke but when my Grandpa started most everyone smoked. 

He had emphysema from smoking and that early July 16th morning he died, the nurses said Grandpa’s heart had been working at a pace of someone running for twenty-years.

I miss Grandpa a lot. I talk to him sometimes. I don’t know if he hears me. But I wish we could play a game of chess or I could share with him a good book I’ve read. I would like to be with him for even an hour, and we wouldn’t have to say anything. Only, being with him again would be enough.

—–

2. John Donne – He is simply one of the greatest and best poets whoever lived. Maybe, that’s debatable but his poetry is so vivid, full of imagery, and he seems like he was a genuine person. I liked his poetry, how in his youth his poems are about his lady friends and he grows up and eventually becomes a Cleric in the Anglican Church. I would love to discuss his poetry with him and his thoughts on the time. He was a Renaissance man, and the relationship he has with his wife, is one I would like to have with a guy someday. Check-out some of his poems I love below:

– A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Love’s Alchemy

– Song: Go And Catch A Falling Star

——

3. William Shakespeare – How could you not want to meet Shakespeare? The author of so many wonderful plays that even today we still have performed, laugh and cry over. We love his comedies, his tragedies, and even if we must his historical plays. One of my favourite activities to do in June and July is to go to Hawerlack Park with my friends and see Shakespeare’s plays performed. You can grab an ice cream or some of our famous Alley Kat local beer and watch the show from the amphitheatre outside. I would have so many questions about Shakespeare’s plays, why he did this and that. What was his most prized work? And yes, you can read Shakespeare, it only takes practice. Rearrange his lines as you read them, they often make more sense. Here are a couple of my favourite plays below: 

– Anthony and Cleopatra
– A Mid Summer Night’s Dream

——-

4. My Mom on her Wedding Day – Yes, Mom is fine. Nothing happened. But I have always wondered what she was like before she had kids. She sewed her own wedding dress, and she was so pretty in it. She was so young and skinny. I would have liked to know her then. To know what her dreams and aspirations were. I would like to know what made her choose to marry my Dad ( he’s a great guy, I’m just curious). I would like to know how she felt at thirty with three young children and how she did it. It would be educational I think and interesting.

—–

5. I would like to meet a whole bunch of actors, to know what they dream of, what they value, to understand why they work how they work, before they are huger stars then they already are. Or, if they are big stars, I’d like to hear their stories about their lives. I would like to meet Jennifer Lawrence, Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Theo James, Orlando Bloom, Nina Dobrev, Kerry Washington, Patrick Dempsey, Kiera Knightley, George Clooney, Ian Somerhaulder, Hugh Jackmen, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Meryl Streep. 

——

©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.