Everything You Should Know About the Ides of March and Why Julius Caesar Should be Thanked for Our Calendar
“Beware the Ides of March,” has been a sentiment said since 44 BC, after Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, according to a historian.
Monday is March 15, a recognizable day on the calendar for history buffs that is tied to Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.
Also known as the Ides of March, March 15 was the last day of Caesar’s life. Caesar himself had a lot to do with how we use calendars today. He made the Roman calendar 365 days long, bringing it in line with the lunar cycles. “We still live on Caesar's time," Amanda Wilcox, a classics professor at Williams College, told Inside Edition Digital.
“Beware the Ides of March,” has been a sentiment said since 44 BC, after Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, according to Wilcox.
“It seems to be the case that there was some premonition that this was going to happen,” she added. “So Shakespeare preserves this, but it's in the ancient accounts too, that a soothsayer had told him, ‘Beware the Ides of March.’”
Wilcox explained as Caesar was walking to the Senate on the morning of the day he was killed and passed Spurinna, a soothsayer in the street, and he said noted the Ides of March had come. Spurinna replied, “Aye, Caesar, but they have not yet gone.”
“So that was a true prophecy as it turned out, because Caesar did go to the Senate, and as was planned, one of the conspirators pulled him aside to ask a favor,” Wilcox added.
Caesar was cornered by conspirators who had concealed daggers in their togas and started stabbing the leader. He was stabbed over 30 times.
“There are all kinds of really interesting parallels with other points in history, and particularly how incredibly shocking it was to have this act of raw political violence right there in a meeting of the Senate. The reaction, in fact, was of total shock and dismay, and maybe as many as 60 senators were in on this,” Wilcox said. “The assassination of Caesar ushers in a very confusing period of Roman history. You have 14 more years of upheaval and chaos. And it's only when Caesar's heir, Octavian, finally defeats Antony and Cleopatra in the year 30, that things are set back on a firm footing, but not on a Republican or Democratic footing, but on an autocracy that kind of masqueraded under the guise of a restored Republic.”
Politics aside, it turns out Caesar had a lot to do with how we mark and think of time in 2021, as the Roman calendar originally was a 355-day calendar then was changed.
“It was originally probably a lunar calendar, where the months were measured by the phases of the moon. But the 355-day calendar doesn't really work, because the solar year is 365 and a quarter days long. So the Romans had divided the year into 12 months, but they were falling short, so they kept falling behind,” Wilcox said.
Two years before his death, Caesar fixed the calendar.
“Caesar brought the calendar into true, when he lined up the civic calendar with the solar calendar, the year as the Romans observed civically, had gotten so far out of whack, it was like three months different,” Wilcox said. “So in the year 46, as dictator, Caesar, he intercalated a month after February. And then he intercalated two more months between November and December, which ended up making the year 46 a 445 day year, which I think must have been so agonizing.”
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