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Beware the Ides of March

The Ides of March

We're all familiar with the story of Julius Caesar's death.  On this date in 44 B.C., he was stabbed to death in the senate house.  A soothsayer had warned Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March".

Today is the Ides of March, but what the heck does the Ides of March signify?  It turns out it was simply the standard way of saying "March 15".  The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

  • Kalends (1st day of the month)
  • Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
  • Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)

The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones - 5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

So, in actuality, the Ides of March is nothing to be scared of... unless you're Julius Caesar.

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