Ides of March return. Beware!

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Beware!

It's that time, again.  The day folks in Louisville fear the most (next to post-Derby Hangover Day).  Yes, hot on the heels of International Pi Day, we take time this Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Roman emperor and beloved tyrant Julius Caesar, who was killed by some of his friends while on his way to work in 44 B.C.  “Ides,” for readers who may have forgotten high school Latin, originally referred to the day of the full moon; usually around 13th day of most months, but the 15th day of March, May, July, and October.  The Roman calendar was a mess.

jcaesar_coin_0.jpg-According to Eutropius, around sixty or more men participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times, which seems to indicate that a majority of the conspirators were less than keen upon the idea of actually doing the dirty deed. According to Suetonius, a physician later established that only one wound had been lethal.

In case you’re interested, the designation “B.C.” (Before Christ) is being used, instead of the more au courant “B.C.E.” (Before the Common Era). No one knows why historians are now using “B.C.E.” and “C.E.” (Common Era), instead of “B.C.” and “A.D.” (Anno Domini, or The Year of Our Lord). It probably has something to do with the fact that Roman coins of the era did not have either “B.C.” or “A.D.” on them.

michael kay corleone2_0.jpgPlutarch tells us that Caesar was stabbed in the forum; although he does not explain how a wound in that area could have been fatal. There is reason to believe that Caesar was also wounded in the fracas. Pliny the Elder tells us that Caesar’s wife, Pompeia, warned him not to go to work that day; she having had a bad dream the night before. As with most husbands, it appears Julius did not appreciate his spouse giving him suggestions on how to run his business. Like the time Michael Corleone told Kay to keep her nose out of his affairs.

liz taylor cleopatra.jpgSpeaking of affairs, it appears that Pompeia was Julius’ second wife, and that she was still a bit peeved over her husband’s dalliance with Elizabeth Taylor (before Liz dumped him for Richard Burton).

Actually, Caesar was a victim of failure to take his own advice. Shakespeare (who probably got this second-hand) quotes him as saying: “Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights; Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.” And then he turns around and gets himself killed by sixty of the skinniest men in Rome. Go figure!

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