Wednesday, March 15, 2017

BEWARE--"The Ides of March!"

I so enjoy learning the true facts behind these legends--and the internet is a source rich in factual and not so factual information--  Here is one that I've heard all my life--what is the true meaning behind this saying?


You may remember the soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar to “Beware the ides of March,” but the term didn’t originate with William Shakespeare. The earliest Roman calendar, which consisted of ten months beginning with Martius (March), was believed to have been created by King Romulus around 753 B.C. At that time, dates were expressed in relation to the lunar phase of the month using three markers: Kalends (Kal), Nones (Non) and Ides (Id). The first phase of the moon, the new moon, was denoted by Kalends and signified the first day of the month; the first quarter moon fell on either the fifth or seventh day of the month and was referred to as Nones; the full moon fell on either the 13th or 15th day of the month and was referred to as Ides. The ides of March—March 15—initially marked the first full moon of a new year.
During the late Roman Republic, a new year’s festival was held on the ides of March in which people would gather a mile outside of Rome on the Via Flaminia by the banks of the Tiber River. Participants celebrated with food, wine and music and offered sacrifices to the Roman deity Anna Perenna for a happy and prosperous new year. Between 222 and 153 B.C., the ides of March also signaled the beginning of the new consular year, in which two annually-elected consuls took office as leaders of the republic.
In 46 B.C., after consulting with the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar by adding ten days to the 355-day year, instituting January 1 as the first day of the new year (beginning in 45 B.C.) and introducing a leap year every four years. Shortly thereafter, he was granted the title Dictator Perpetuus or “dictator for life.” Concerned with Caesar’s increasing power and monarchical leanings, a group of Roman senators stabbed the ruler to death on March 15, 44 B.C.—forever linking the ides of March with the assassination of Julius Caesar.  
Other things that happen on March 15-- 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.”
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.)
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.
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.”
World Record Rainfall, 1952 Rain falls on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion—and keeps falling, hard enough to register the world’s most voluminous 24-hour rainfall: 73.62 inches.
 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.


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