Beware the Ides of March Quote Origin

Today we observe the “Ides of March” made famous by the death of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. and its portrayal in the Shakespearean play named after him. Yes, today’s quote is not from the Bible, but like other Shakespeare quotes it has been known to be confused with Biblical text.

“Beware the Ides of March” – Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2, William Shakespeare

Beware the Ides of March Caesar

Death of Caesar Famous Painting by Vincenzo Camuccini in 1798

The word “ides” comes from the ancient Roman calendar dating as far back as 753 B.C. The Romans had three reference points for each month known as the Kalends, the Nones and the Ides. The Kalends was the first day of the month, the Nones was either the fifth or seventh or day depending on the month, and the Ides was the halfway point within the month. With the advent of the Julian calendar in 46 B.C. the Romans were using a 365 day year, with 12 months much like the Gregorian calendar we use today. March had 31 days in 44 B.C. and so the “Ides of March” fell on the 15th day of the month.

In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, Caesar was warned by a soothsayer of his impending doom on the Ides of March. He dismissed the warning as idle chatter to his own peril. History records the death of Julius Caesar more accurately, but in both accounts, it is his close friend Brutus who betrays him. Here is the dialog from the play Julius Caesar Act 1 Scene 2.

SOOTHSAYER: Caesar!

CAESAR: Ha! who calls?

CASCA: Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

CAESAR: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music, Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

SOOTHSAYER: Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR: What man is that?

BRUTUS: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

CAESAR: Set him before me; let me see his face.

CASSIUS: Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

CAESAR: What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.

SOOTHSAYER: Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR: He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15-28

Enjoy the Ides of March, nothing to beware today. And if you like Shakespeare, here are some William Shakespeare Quotes to enjoy. :-)


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