The Ides of March

I first heard the term, “beware the Ides of March” back in high school. But what does that mean, exactly?

The Ides of March is a date from the Roman calendar that referred to the first full moon in March. It was also a deadline for settling their debts. Because the Romans used a lunar calendar, the first full moon of the year occurred around the fifteenth of the month. What I learned from my research was that most of the Roman year revolved around their holidays. Today, the Ides of March relates to the assassination of Julius Caesar in the year 44 BC.

William Shakespeare wrote a play about Caesar, and the Ides of March called The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. One of the lines is “beware the Ides of March,” in which Caesar is warned of impending danger, only to later ignore the warning. While the play is titled “Julius Caesar,” it is more about a moral dilemma brought about when friendship clashes with the greater good.

The Bard of Avon wrote almost forty plays and more than a hundred and thirty sonnets. His repertoire also includes two narrative poems, The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis. His works have been retold more often than most people realize.

Take Romeo and Juliet, for example. In 1961, West Side Story was set in the Upper West Side of New York, and instead of feuding families, the feud is between rival gangs. High School Musical is another retelling of the old classic.

Writing inspiration can be found in books you’ve read, or passages, such as “beware the Ides of March,” that span the ages. Don’t be afraid to borrow from writers from the past.

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