Cat in the Stax: The Ides of March
By Ethan Shea
Happy hump day, Wildcats! The semester is back in full swing, and there are already plenty of holidays to celebrate. Check out Graduate Assistant Annie’s Peek at the Week for a full list, but you can look forward to St. Patrick’s Day and my personal favorite, Pi Day, just to name a couple. My bias for Pi day is personal, as it is also my half birthday (and Albert Einstein’s actual birthday), but Pi day aside, there is an important reason why today, March 15, is infamous.
Today is the ides of March, a date made famous by Shakespeare in the play Julius Caesar. “A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March” is the prophetic warning Caesar receives in the first act of the play, an iconic foreshadowing of his impending assassination. You can read Julius Caesar online through Falvey’s website here.
The ides only occurs when a full moon falls on the 15th of a month. This phenomenon does not happen very often. In fact, the only months with ides are March, May, July, and October.
Shakespeare did not choose the ides of March without reason, as Caesar was really killed on March 15, 44 B.C.E. Caesar’s death led to a civil war, and the following power vacuum placed Augustus, Caesar’s heir, on the throne.
Before Julius Caesar ruled, the Romans celebrated the New Year on March 1. To honor the two-faced God Janus, Caesar implemented the aptly named Julian calendar and changed New Year’s Day from March 1 to Jan. 1 in the year 46 B.C.E. The 365-day Julian calendar is the same one we continue use here in the United States to this day.
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.