The Ides of March

Julius CaesarWhy should we beware the ides of March? Certainly we should be concerned about the Romans who counted days in as logical a way as they counted numbers: that is very illogically. Take the ides for example. They are on the 13th of the month. But not in March. In March, they are on the 15th. Why? Because the Romans are nasty people that way. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, there must be some system like the ides is on the 15th for months with 31 days!” Oh, Grasshopper! Your ignorance is so charming! But it is still ignorance.

Let’s begin with the number of days. Why do some months have 30 days and others have 31 except for February which has less? (There is an easy way to remember which.) The reason we have such a screwy system is thanks to—Wait for it!—the Romans! What did the Romans ever do for us? They gave as a really stupid calendar!

There are better ideas for calendars. My favorite is that we make every month 30 days. That gives us 5 (or 6) left over at the end. That we call the new year celebration where everyone stays drunk or otherwise pleasantly intoxicated. And on the last day, we hang all the bankers who’ve pissed us off that year.

Now back to those ides. The ides were on the 15th in March, May, July, and October. While it is true that those months have 31 days, what the hell happened to January, August, and December?

According to Shakespeare, “A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.” According to Wikipedia, an actual soothsayer told him that something bad would happen to him by the ides of March. (Ingrown toenail?) If said soothsayer really existed, he was probably as confused about the dates as we are. So who knows? “A hard rain’s a gonna fall!” Anyway, Julius Caesar fully deserved to be killed, although it would have been best if he had been allowed to live a little while to let the people see what an asshole he had become. (Of course, looking at American, maybe they never would have noticed.) Regardless, it is pretty clear that the republic was over. On to the zany years of the emperors!

But at least, we’ll always have the play!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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