Beware the Ides of March: A History Lesson

March 15 is the Ides of March. “Ides” is a term for the middle of the month. Used by the Romans, who divided the months into groupings of days. The month starts with the “Kalends”, the “Ides” in the middle, and the “Nones” at the end. So really, there is an “Ides” of every month, not just March. The Romans used these groupings to align with the lunar phases. The “Ides” referred to the first full moon of the month, which was usually between the 13th and 15th. Back in Ancient Rome, the Ides of March marked the new year, which was a time of celebrating and rejoicing. However, when we think of the Ides of March today, we think of it as a bad omen. Why is that?

The reason why we remember and acknowledge the “Ides of March” is two-fold. First, March 15 is the day that the Roman statesman Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE. Second, this historical act was immortalized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar with the quote “Beware the ides of March”. In the play, Julius Caesar is given a warning from the soothsayer, who speaks this infamous line. From then on, the Ides of March would forever be considered a bad omen. It now symbolizes betrayal and downfall.

Complete a series of activities dealing with Ancient Rome and the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar with our FREE Julius Caesar – Novel Study Guide Bonus Worksheets. Create your own political party in the style of Ancient Rome. Imagine your own 8-episode TV series depicting the life of Julius Caesar. Design your own Roman artifact that can be found in a museum. Conduct research into an ancient Roman God and write a report detailing their myths and legends.

Learn more about the Ides of March and why it has become a day to fear from

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