The Ides of March by Thornton WilderDrawing on such unique sources as Thornton Wilders unpublished letters, journals, and selections from the extensive annotations Wilder made years later in the margins of the book, Tappan Wilders Afterword adds a special dimension to the reissue of this internationally acclaimed novel.
The Ides of March, first published in 1948, is a brilliant epistolary novel set in Julius Caesars Rome. Thornton Wilder called it a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic.
Through vividly imagined letters and documents, Wilder brings to life a dramatic period of world history and one of historys most magnetic, elusive personalities.
In this inventive narrative, the Caesar of history becomes Caesar the human being. Wilder also resurrects the controversial figures surrounding Caesar - Cleopatra, Catullus, Cicero, and others. All Rome comes crowding through these pages - the Rome of villas and slums, beautiful women and brawling youths, spies and assassins.
The meaning and origin of the expression: Beware the Ides of March
The earliest Roman calendar, which consisted of ten months beginning with Martius March , was believed to have been created by King Romulus around B. At that time, dates were expressed in relation to the lunar phase of the month using three markers: Kalends Kal , Nones Non and Ides Id. The first phase of the moon, the new moon, was denoted by Kalends and signified the first day of the month; the first quarter moon fell on either the fifth or seventh day of the month and was referred to as Nones; the full moon fell on either the 13th or 15th day of the month and was referred to as Ides. The ides of March—March 15—initially marked the first full moon of a new year. Participants celebrated with food, wine and music and offered sacrifices to the Roman deity Anna Perenna for a happy and prosperous new year.
You may have heard the phrase “beware the Ides of March,” but what is an Ides and In a day month such as March, the Kalends was day 1, with days 2–6.
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The phrase is best known for appearing in the text of the William Shakespeare tragedy Julius Caesar , where it hints at the eventual assassination of the Roman dictator. The other days were counted as a group before the next named day. For example, in March the Ides falls on the 15th; days 8 to 14 were simply referred to as before the Ides. While not inauspicious, the Ides of March was still of note to the Romans —several religious festivals were held on the date, and it was used as a deadline for settling debts as well. According to the Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch, Caesar really was instructed to beware the Ides of March by a soothsayer.
The bizarre phrase spoken by a soothsayer early in the play, and warns of the eventual assassination of Caesar. In the ancient Roman calendar the Ides was one of three markers used each month which related to the position of the moon. The Ides, which in March fell on the 15th, marked the full moon, with the Kalends denoting the first phase of the moon and the Nones signifying the first quarter moon. Caeser was stabbed 23 times as he sat in his golden chair at the Senate, with the fatal wound landing on his breast. In , a party of Frenchmen began a hour spree of rape, pillage and murder in southern England.
The idea that March 15 or "the ides of March" is unlucky goes back to ancient traditions and superstitions. Most people have probably heard the phrase "the ides of March" quoted from a famous line in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar: "Beware the ides of March. The Ides of March was certainly unlucky for Caesar, who actually was killed on that day. Of course these days a psychic making such a death threat would be investigated by the Secret Service. The fact that an aura of doom stuck to the date through millennia is not surprising.