The Ides of March are Come and Gone
  • Ceasar: The ides of March are come.

    Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone.

    — William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1.

    The word ides is derived from the ancient Roman calendar and comes from the Latin idus, which Oxford defines as “a day falling roughly in the middle of each month (the 15th day of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th of other months) from which other dates were calculated.”

    In the beginning of William Shakespeare’s compulsively readable play, Julius Caesar has this premonitory exchange with the soothsayer:

    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 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.

    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 I, Scene 2.

    The soothsayer, as you know, is soon vindicated.

    And yet, as Nabokov noted, it’s not for his stories that we primarily love Shakespeare, but rather for this:

    “The verbal-poetical texture of Shakespeare is the greatest the world has ever known, and is immensely superior to the structure of his plays as plays. With Shakespeare, it is the metaphor that’s the thing, not the play.”


About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

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