‘Beware the Ides of March’: Is it a lucky or unlucky date?
By Tara Bailey
-Did You Know-
→ Did you know the Ides of March is on March 15? This historical date will forever be analogous to the assignation of the Roman General Julius Caesar. Countrymen celebrated the tyrannical general for his conquering of Gaul in (58-50 BCE) and the civil war in (49-45 BC), which was the last politico-military conflict in the Roman Republic before it established the Roman Empire. On Jan. 10-11, 49 BCE, Caesar led his troops across the river Rubicon, which was the boundary between his province and Cisalpine Gaul and Italy.
By doing so, he committed the first act of war. This act was a defining moment in a long procession of diabolical decisions that led to his death. Delusions of grandeur stroked Caesar’s ego, so much that he declared himself “Dictator for life,” therefore sealing his fate.
→ Did you know the quote, “Beware the Ides of March,” comes from the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare? In Act 1, Scene 2, it is Lupercalia, an ancient Roman religious holiday. The Roman dictator Caesar is addressing the press in the city streets. Emerging from the crowd, a soothsayer (psychic) issues a warning to Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.” Allies and enemies alike all know that Caesar lacks superstitions and will take this warning light-heartedly.
Then the warning is told to him again by Brutus, a senator, and most notable assassin of Caesar. Warning after warning bounced off Caesar as if he were wearing an invisible shield. From his wife dreaming of his assignation to spine-chilling thunder at the beginning of the scene did not give cause for Caesar to doubt the inevitable. Stunningly, he proceeds on the Ides, meets with the press, and his conspirators greeted Caesar by stabbing him 30 times under the direction of Senator Cassius Longinus and Roman officer Cassius Chaerea of the Germanicus Army. Even though people credit Shakespeare with being the pioneer of writing about the demise of Julius Caesar, it was the Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch’s literary works “Life of Caesar,” which served as Shakespeare’s muse.
→ Did you know the death of the cruel Roman Emperor Caligula resembled that of Caesar’s? Caligula ruled Ancient Rome through fear and trepidation. Caligula pillaged Rome with acts of debauchery, adultery, corruption and murder. His reign of terror ended after four years.
It is worth noting that some historians are explicitly biased against Caligula, that the accurate account of his reign is hard to decipher. One of his famous stories passed through the years was his abnormal affection for his sister Drusilla. So much so, she is the first-ever woman the Romans honored. He yearned for an incestuous monarchy, where brother and sister could marry each other. Just when you think Caligula could not get weirder, he proclaims his divinity. After a while, his Roman subjects grew weary of his antics of extortion and starting spewing conspiracies against him. While attending the Palatine Games, Praetorian guards Cassius Chaerea, Cornelius Sabinus, and senate leaders stabbed Caligula 30 times.
→ Did you know people consider the ides of March to be unlucky? In the United States, Friday the 13th seems to be the optimal unlucky date. But many people associate another infamous date with natural disasters, doom, and gloom. Throughout history, many terrible acts or bad omens have occurred on March 15th.
• In 1971, CBS announced the cancelation of the Ed Sullivan Show.
• In 1988, NASA reported that the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere was depleting faster than predicted.
• A deadly blizzard on the great plains occurred in 1941 leaving the Dakotas and Minnesota region blanketed and causing over 60 deaths.
• In 1991, a Los Angeles grand jury indicted four police officers in connection with the beating of Rodney King. Later, a jury found those officers not guilty.
• In 2003, the World Health Organization issued a new global health scare. SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) plagued the continent of Asia and the country of Canada.
• In 2018, the former mega-toy giant Toys R Us announced the closure of U.S. stores because of bankruptcy.
• A terrorist attack on two mosques by a right-wing Australian gunman kills 51 and wounds 50 in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.
• In 2020, Las Vegas resorts announced shut down operations because of COVID-19. At a glance, March 15th can appear unlucky. It would appear so to the conspirators who assassinated Julius Caesar. Their so-called “cleansing,” the Roman people of this harrowing leader, and declaration of being heroes, not murders were short- lived. The outcome for the conspirators intended was to free the city, and people from living under tyranny actually traded in one devil for another. They were unsuccessful in reviving the Republic and laid out the red carpet for permanent dictatorship under the future Roman emperors. In the words of August Wilson, sometimes you have to take “the crooked with the straights.”
• Everything bad happens not only on March 15th. Good things happen, too.
• In 1965, TGI Fridays opened its first restaurant.
• The novelist Mario Puzo’s legendary movie “The Godfather,” premieres in 1972.
• The French fashion house Givenchy appoints its first female designer, Clare Waight Keller, in 2017.
• Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives on the world stage with her climate strikes held by children around the world.
• National Napping Day is a great day, kindergarten teachers should celebrate joyously along with people over 30 years of age, or by people who love a good nap. That being said, Pisces need not worry about being born on what is considered by many to be the second unluckiest day of the year.