The Ides of March

March 15, 2016 / Events
Rome, Lazio

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ides1The ides (in Latin pronounced Ee-des) fell on the 13th most months, except March, May, July (named after Julius himself, this month was previously Quintilis), and October, when it would take place on the 15th. Thanks to the ancient writers we all know what happened on the Ides of March near Pompey’s Theater, not far from this temple in Largo Argentina. Shakespeare’s version has it on the Senate steps, a common misconception, as in the 1798 painting by Camuccini).


Regardless of the plan’s intent, for the Senators who thought they were freeing the Republic from a tyrant, executing Caesar turned out to be one of those historical stupendously bad ideas. First, all the conspirators met a horrible end. Suetonius states that none survived Caesar by more than three years; Mark Anthony and Octavian saw to that. Second, Caesar’s death led to the exact opposite of what the self-proclaimed Liberatores set out to achieve. With opposition in the Senate dead (literally), a few years of civil war and the ensuing desire for security, Caesar’s nephew and appointed heir Octavian managed to take power, deify his uncle, and change his name to Caesar Augustus. Republic, exeunt left… Empire, enter right. So much for restoration.

Just history, right? Some must still feel strongly about it. Pay attention (be aware?) on the Ides of March in Rome and you’ll see the flowers that some people leave in commemoration at the feet of the statue of Caesar each year.

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by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

15 Responses to “The Ides of March”

  1. Joan Schmelzle

    Sure and I’ve seen those flowers there in months as late as December though those were either fake or quite dead! I’ll be checking it out again next December.

  2. Angela Finch

    Reading about that period of history, the end of the Republic, my impression is the protaganists were so egotistical, so political, so familiar that it could have happened yesterday. We make the same mistakes today. Our elected Leaders beware.

  3. trionfale

    and if you can, treat yourself to a viewing of the Taviani Bros. film “Cesare deve morire”…

  4. Maria Libera Vallone

    I am born on the Ides of March and prepare myself each year to be subject to my friends’ warning “Beware the Ides of March”. Never knew the entire story though. Thanks for the information today!!!

  5. Marianna Raccuglia

    Thank you for this informative article. I love reading Italian Notebook!

  6. Victoria De Maio

    I just love these historical snippets and never tire of reading them annually. Interesting reminders of historical “fact vs fiction”.
    As always, grazie for the lesson!

  7. When we were in Rome in 2012 we saw the murder of Caesar re-enacted in Largo Argentina, It was surprisingly effective in communicating the emotions surrounding the event.

  8. Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

    A few years ago, we stayed at a very nice little B & B right there, Argentina Residenza, on the third floor of the apartment building across the street from this ancient square. We walked through three courtyards to get in and out. We loved it!

  9. Joan Schmelzle

    Every time I wander the Forum (probably on five trips to Rome in the last ten years) I check behind the “altar” of Caesar’s temple. There have always been flowers there. These trips have been in fall and at Christmas time. Ave Caesar!

  10. Hi GB Thanks for another very interesting post. I read recently the Julius Caesar was aware of the plot against him but did nothing to stop it because of his failing health etc. Decided he would rather die this way than being sick. Could this be true?


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