Beware the Ides of March!

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According to Plutarch, a soothsayer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March, the festivities for the new Roman year which started on March 15. On his way to the Theatre of Pompey, where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and joked, “The ides of March have come,” meaning to say that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied “Aye, Caesar; but not gone.” This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March.” The Roman biographer Suetonius identifies the “seer” or soothsayer as a haruspex named Spurinna. 

Julius Caesar, ACTUS PRIMUS, Second Scene

CAESAR: Ha! Who calls?

CASCA: Bid every noise be still. Peace yet again.

(Music ceases)

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 turned 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.

(SOOTHSAYER approaches.)

CAESAR: What sayst thou to me now? Speak once again.

SOOTHSAYER: Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR: He is a dreamer. Let us leave him. Pass!

Maybe if Caesar had listened to the soothsayer, the story —and history — would have been different.

The video above shows a scene from the 1953 movie Julius Caesar adapted from Shakespeare’s original script, produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who adapted the script.

Fate Ides of March The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars.001

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